BY JOY OFASIA
IN light of the current travel restrictions and social distancing advice, local farmers and ordinary citizens across the Solomon Islands are strongly encouraged to increase crop cultivation in the face of a possible impact of food shortage due to the global outbreak of the coronavirus.
The country’s cash cropping and subsistence agriculture plays a very important role in the food supply chain, not only in Honiara but also throughout the provinces. In these highly anticipated difficult times, it is important to keep society going and ensure that everyone has access to healthy and nutritious foods.
“As preparation measures continue to unfold and established by the responsible government authorities for the incoming deadly coronavirus, ordinary citizens, local farmer, and vendors should start focusing on contingency plans and practices to avoid the dependency on imported foods on the store shelves, including cash crops for profits and subsistence but to start the actioning the process of planting more food crops in our respective farms or backyard gardens to survive the virus spread.
“While it’s important that our leaders communicate calmly and clearly about the situation to avoid unnecessary panic, it’s just as important that we take decisive action to keep Solomon Islands families healthy and stabilize our economy as the virus spreads globally,” Honiara Central Market Vendor Association, Fostina Dolovera said.
She said a significant portion of consumable goods are manufactured in China, which means supply chain disruption may eventually cause food shortages in the Solomon Islands.
“The country is heavily reliant on imported foods from Asian countries and more prominently China, for instance, rice and other tin processed food, the current coronavirus epidemic might force as to lose access to the valuable overseas markets in the coming weeks or months.
“But to ensure that every Solomon Islander can prevent this kind of problem in the future; we must create such an incentive for the population of the country to develop and make use of our rich and available land resources to quickly grow our crops particularly vegetables and root crops to sufficiently meet our food supply chain and demand,” Fostina said.
The news report cited from SBM Online News stated that the Solomon Islands Ports Authority (SIPA) CEO Eranda Kotelawala has confirmed that the country’s imports are normal but exports are declining.
“We have seen a slight decline in exports but imports are consistent in the past couple of months and terms of business things are going on smoothly.
“With fears growing amid panic from COVID-19 – we took the opportunity to assure the nation to declare that business is continuing as usual for SIPA,” SBM Online News reported.