17 September 2020
Solomon Islands: Organic policy in the agricultural and farming sectors.
A news report in today’s Island Sun newspaper by Mavis Nishimura Podokolo has said the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAL) has recently conducted a two-day workshop in Honiara to allow stakeholders provide input to further develop an organic policy
The workshop was supported by the Australian Government through UNDP which has been mobilising support to assist the Agriculture sector in the country.
The aim of the workshop was to identify challenges, development opportunities, and required activities and resources needed by key stakeholders’ groups across the agricultural value chain, identify supportive policies needed to achieve the development objectives identified, in which government ministries are involved with mainstream gender youth developments across the agricultural value chain.
The Permanent Secretary for MAL, Ethel Francis, acknowledged the Australian Government for funding the programme through UNDP.
“This workshop is very important for us, because all of us grew up and saw organic farming and as we go along, we sort of see threats in terms of food security - in terms of how to produce more than enough to be able to feed the population.
“Hence, this policy is vital for us and it is essential we go down the organic road because once we got our farmers to depend so much on fertilizers and all that it has been very difficult to change their mindset and also it will become a health threat to us.
“So, I think it’s not too late to build our capacity in organic farming, “said the Permanent Secretary.
The Country Manager for UNDP, Berdi Berdiyev, said, “Agricultural represents an important sector of the economy and source of livelihoods and income globally for billions of people.
“Most importantly organic agriculture or farming will play a key role in maintaining healthy environments/soil fertility, and people need to grow food, generate income and build the economy.
“Given the disruption in the supply chains, food production, use of chemical fertilisers, transportation routes that we witness nowadays around the world, coupled with structural challenges and environmental hazards, food security and livelihood support, especially for most vulnerable groups of population, becomes ever more important.
“We very much see the launching of this organic Agriculture policy review as an opportunity to grow and engage in Agriculture /food systems and livelihood in the Solomon Islands, to bring positive and sustainable benefits to the people of Solomon Islands.”
Source: Island Sun newspaper.
17 September 2020
Call for NZ to turn to Pacific for more seasonal workers
A news report from Radio New Zealand, today, has indicated the Pacific Co-operation Foundation says it'd be a win - win situation if New Zealand brought in thousands more seasonal workers from the Pacific.
Quoting the bulletin in full, it said.
“The chair of the PCF, John Fiso, said New Zealand could provide financial support for Pacific people who were suffering because their economies were tanking, while also ensuring the valuable fruit crop was harvested.
“One estimate is that New Zealand is 60,000 workers short this season.
“Fiso said he could understand the government's wish that unemployed New Zealanders step in, but he said there were also other issues to consider.
“He said while the borders were closed, New Zealand had to consider its role in the Pacific and its commitment to the so-called 'Pacific Reset' policy which brought a focus on the region.
"We are not talking about opening the borders for trade. We are more or less talking about opening the borders for humanitarian reasons. You have also got to remember that the realm countries - like Niue, Tokelau and the Cook Islands, are actually New Zealanders," Fiso said.
"So we seem to have started a discussion about opening up the border with Australia but we have realm countries that are basically New Zealanders. We also have a special relationship with Samoa and Tonga."
“Currently the Recognised Seasonal Employer scheme allowed 14,400 Pacific Islanders into New Zealand, and this had been extended into the coming season, but an Immigration New Zealand spokesperson said they would not be able to travel to the country until border restrictions were lifted.
“ 7,000 RSE workers were unable to return home after the Covid-19 clampdown. Immigration NZ extended their visas - and their numbers would be included in 14,400 quota for 2020/2021.
16 September 2020
MEHRD gets $5m for wash facilities
Writing in today’s edition of the Island Sun newspaper, local journalist Mavis Nishimura Podokolo said the Solomom Islands Ministry of Education and Human Resources Dvelopment (MEHRD has received an Economic Stimulus Package of $5 million to step-up hand washing facilities in schools.
“This was confirmed by Franco Rodie Permanent Secretary for MEHRD.
“Five million ESP to step up hand washing stations and other things that we want to buy, for instance tanks.
“So, in fact we have sent number of tanks to Malaita Outer Islands (MOI) schools and we doing that for the schools in the border so they can be able to catch water for washing and other purposes.
“Although, we have been slow but of good reasons we got to access those finance before we can bring something to support our schools,” said Mr. Rodie.
He stressed this at the recent oversight committee radio talkback show on covid-19 updates in Honiara.
Comment: Mavis didn’t say from where the $5 million came from but, nevertheless, the money is timely and much needed, as Mr. Rodie explained.
17 September 2020
Kilu’ufi hospital soon to get a Covid -19 testing machine
Writing in today’s Solomon Star newspaper, local journalist, Andrew Fanasia, said, quote.
“Kilu’ufi hospital in Malaita Province is soon to get their COVID-19 testing machine as work is progressing well at the moment.
“That’s according to Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare’s nationwide address on Monday.
“As for Malaita Province, work has progressed and as soon as safety requirements for the COVID-19 testing machine in Malaita province are in place, the laboratory personnel and bio medics technicians in Honiara will be deployed to Kilu’ufií, Hospital,” PM Sogavare announced.
“He further added that installation and training on the Gene-Xpert machine to perform COVID-19 testing and bio safety cabinet will be undertaken for Kilu’ufi Hospital staff.
“This is part of the government’s ongoing efforts to ensure that COVID-19 readiness is decentralized to the provinces in terms of both capacity and capability,” he added.
“At the same time, Prime Minister Sogavare said he was pleased to note that the government through the Ministry of Health and Medical Services had also undertaken training for two more local lab staff on COVID-19 testing recently.
“Additionally, 13 new recruits have signed their contract last week and are being earmarked for the molecular testing,” he said.
“The government is of the view that having adequate numbers of COVID-19 lab staff is important to prevent fatigue and maintain the quality of work output.
“Meanwhile, he continues to acknowledge and appreciate the continuous partnership between the Government and our partners during these unprecedented times.
“This pandemic has shown that true friends never leave you during tough times,” he added.”
16 September 2020
CBSI holds consultations for a new financial inclusion strategy
“Under the financial inclusion initiative, focus is now on the informal sector, women, youths and people with special needs as they develop these policies and strategies.”
According to a new feature story in today’s edition of Solomon Times Online, the Central Bank of Solomon Islands (CBSI) and UNCDF-Pacific Financial Inclusion Programme (PFIP) are currently conducting a nation-wide consultation to help develop the next-phase strategy for financial inclusion in the country.
Speaking during the first consultations in Taro, Choiseul Province, Governor Forau explained that the current financial landscape and emerging infrastructure development such as the undersea cable and communications network, are opportunities that must be harnessed and embraced.
He explained that the purpose of the current consultations will help CBSI, and the Solomon Islands Government (SIG) including their stakeholders/partners, to develop ideal strategies that utilize these new developments in the country.
He emphasized that through this process, greater improvements in the delivery of financial services to all Solomon Island citizens can effectively take place.
“This new medium term strategy for financial inclusion in the country must have the latest input from both the Provincial Government level and all our stakeholders, including private citizens, in order to fully grasp the expectations and needs of everyone, when putting these strategies together,” Governor Forau stressed.
“Please use this time to discuss and ask questions about financial inclusion in general and on current plans for innovative digital channels that will bring financial services, especially to our rural population,” he added.
Governor Forau clarified that apart from the NFIS 3 consultations, there was also the development of the newest National Digital Economy Strategy (NDES) that CBSI and partners are helping SIG to develop.
NDES together with NFIS 3 (2021-2025) are key strategy papers that must be done in consultation with stakeholders before finalizing, and according to the CBSI Governor, NDES is the first strategy of its kind in the Pacific region.
“CBSI is leading the way to help Solomon Islands realize its potential under this new area of financial inclusion and the development of NDES will help CBSI and partners to leverage technology to improve business processes, provide convenient access to markets, improve governance and monitoring, as well as bridge the digital divide,” Governor Forau added.
Governor Forau also took the time to further explain about the latest product in relation to innovative digital channels, from the Solomon Islands National Provident Fund (SINPF) called YouSave. He described the product as a prime example of the potential in digital platforms that is now providing members greater opportunities to save, and to have access to finance.
“YouSave is clear example of such opportunities as we now have the informal sector saving and having greater opportunities,” Governor Forau said.
“The aim is to have technologies that will benefit our citizens and all the sectors of the economy through digitization.”
Since 2011, CBSI has been promoting financial inclusion in the country with the objective of having Solomon Islanders to have access to convenient and responsible financial services.
Currently there are still many challenges and gaps within the financial inclusion landscape, but on-going efforts in providing inclusive and tailored financial products to address the unmet needs of Solomon Islanders are slowly picking up.
Under the financial inclusion initiative, focus is now on the informal sector, women, youths and people with special needs as they develop these policies and strategies.
CBSI, UNCDF-PFIP and PHB Development, led by Technical Advisor Mr. Sanjay B. Shah are working towards completing of NFIS3 by end of 2020, and assist the SIG through the Ministry of Communication and Aviation (MCA) to develop the NDES.
The discussions will address inclusiveness of financial services and reach to the rural populace and enhance visibility of the strong inter linkages existing between the informal economy and formal economy.
The Third National Financial Inclusion Strategy (NFIS3) will commence as of next year, 2021 to 2025.
Comment. Jargon apart, the CBSI report provides valuable information and is especially revealing when it is said the financial inclusion initiative will focus on women, youths and those in the country with special needs.