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Sunday, 01 November

The Government through the Ministry of Rural Development is working with Varivao Holding to further develop its capacity to meet market demands in Australia.

Varivao Holding, an indigenous Solomon Islands business, sent its first shipment of over 14,000 kilograms of yellow cassava to buyers in Melbourne, Australia, in November last year.

Prime Minister Hon Manasseh Sogavare told Parliament yesterday that, “I have instructed the Ministry of Rural Development to work with Varivao Holding and the Minister for Rural Development has had several meetings with the company.

“We need to find out more on what they need to do in terms of developing their capacity to sustain their supply chain to meet market demands in Australia.”

The Prime Minister made the remarks when assisting the Minister for Commerce, Industries, Labour and Immigration, Hon Elijah Doromuala to answer questions regarding government assistance to Varivao Holding to help find overseas markets as well as to ascertain the volume of market demands and ensure quality products.

He said there is the PPP (Public-Private Partnership) arrangement through which the government and the private sector can collaborate in tapping into the Australian and other overseas root crop markets.

In the case of Varivao Holding, the Prime Minister said the company has already tapped into the Australian market and that is a great achievement as Solomon Islands has had access difficulties in the past.

Prime Minister Sogavare said the Minister for Commerce, industries, Labour and Immigration will later on be actively involved in a series of talks with the company as part of the Government’s efforts to further develop its capacity to meet the supply demands of the Australian market.

The Prime Minister added that root crop cultivation is an area of huge potential for the engagement of rural Solomon Islanders in export-oriented economic activities should it become the prime focus of rural funding assistance channeled through Members of Parliament (MPs).

He said about 85 percent of Solomon Islanders are rural dwellers but do not ‘really’ actively participate in economic activities except to allow their land for logging activities and it is time that MPs should come up with strategies to engage them in export-oriented activities such as root crop cultivation.

The Prime Minister said the Government has done its part in providing resources for the empowerment of rural Solomon Islands to actively engage in economic activities through the allocation of millions of dollars for rural development and MPs are obliged to ensure these resources are well utilised .

The Prime Minister said part and parcel of the rural empowerment policy of the present Democratic Coalition for Change Government is to revive the Commodities Export Marketing Authority to handle the marketing connection that rural Solomon Islanders need to connect with overseas markets.