The Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAL) is looking forward to the implementation of national activities of the Multilateral Environment Agreements (MEAs) in Solomon Islands with the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations.
Deputy Secretary Technical (DST) of MAL, Michael Ho’ota uttered the statement during MEAs two days inception workshop/meeting held at the Heritage Park Hotel in Honiara from 13-14 May 2021.
Objectives of the meeting is to raise awareness on the programme’s objective and activities; scoping out strategic partnerships with civil society and private sector; refine and validate work plan for year 1 which include validating agro-biodiversity priorities areas, reaffirming preliminary sites/province identified, reaffirming preliminary subsector (commodities such as cocoa, coconut and others) and scope strategic partnerships with civil society and private sector.
“The two days consultation mainly dealt with a component of the programme on the mainstreaming of biodiversity into agriculture and Solomon Islands is the selected focus country for intensified action in the Pacific Region. We (MAL) look forward to the implementation of national activities jointly with FAO,” Mr. Ho’ota said.
He said agriculture is an important sector for the Solomon Islands’ national economy as it sustains 85 percent of the rural population with food crops, cash crops, and livestock for their daily livelihoods, food, and social security.
“…it is common knowledge and studies have indicated effects of agriculture on the environment. Agriculture is known as one of our greatest triumphs and sources of environmental damage. Major environmental problems – Soil erosion – Sediment transport and deposition downstream – On-site pollution from overuse and secondary effects of fertilizers and pesticides – Off-site pollution of other ecosystems, of soil, water and air. It changes the environment major environmental problems such as deforestation, desertification, degradation of aquifers, salinization, accumulation of toxic organic compounds and Loss of biodiversity. Therefore, the manner in which we develop agriculture sustainably and environmentally friendly must now be seriously addressed in light of the increasing environment and land resources exploitation,” the Deputy Secretary Technical of MAL, Mr. Ho’ota stressed.
Meanwhile, former Permanent Secretary of MAL and now the Assistant FAO Country Representative Mr. Jimi Saelea said FAO has the global mandate to improve levels of nutrition, increase agricultural productivity, and improve lives of rural populations through agriculture development.
He said one of FAO’s strategic global objectives is to focus on “Increase and improve provision of goods and services from agriculture, forestry and fisheries in a sustainable manner”. This is but one of the projects that FAO is implementing and will be implementing in the country. The project operates at the global, regional and national levels, thus for Solomon Islands to be selected as the focus country in the Pacific region requires that we commit to make sure we benefit from the programme,” Mr. Saelea stressed.
He said the primary focus of the project (MEAs) is to promote mainstreaming biodiversity and sound pesticides management in agriculture.
“This initiative will contribute to achieving the Solomon Islands National Development Strategy, NDS-2016 to 2035 Objectives of which Objective 1: Sustained and inclusive economic growth through Agriculture &livestock. Objective 2: Poverty alleviated across the whole of the Solomon Islands, basic needs addressed and food security improved. Objective 4: Resilient and environmentally sustainable development with effective disaster risk management, response and recovery,” Mr. Saelea stated.
He said FAO remain committed towards supporting the development of sustainable agriculture, fisheries, forestry and environmental management of pesticides in Solomon Islands to ensure food security, livelihoods and healthy living for the households and people of our country.
Mr. Saelea also took the opportunity to acknowledge the role that government through the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock, and the Ministry of Environment, Climate Change, Disaster Management and Meteorology will play in ensuring this project achieve its objectives.
Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs) – phase III Programme is an initiative of the Organization of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (OACPS) and is funded by the European Union, under the Intra-ACP envelope of the 11th EDF. The Programme is being implemented jointly by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
The primary objective of the programme is to promote environmental sustainability in African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries by strengthening environmental governance and the implementation of Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs).
The target of MEAs are the Convention on Biological Diversity, the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions (BRS) and indirectly the United Nations Convention to Combat Diversification (UNCCD) and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). FAO, in close collaboration with regional partners and national counterparts, implements a component of the programme on the mainstreaming of biodiversity into agriculture.
The programme operates at the global, regional and national levels.
Solomon Islands is the selected focus country for intensified action in the Pacific Region.
The implementation of national activities will be jointly done by the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAL) and FAO. Representatives from relevant government ministries, FAO, national research institutes and organizations and private sector attended the inception meeting.