Practical students from a Rural Training Centre (TRC) at a farm close to Kirakira where participants at the workshop visited.

The Solomon Islands Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SICCI) through its Export Industry Development Department has encouraged rural cocoa and copra farmers in Makira/Ulawa Province to consider venturing into commercial enterprises that has the potential to improve the standard of living in our rural communities.

SICCI Export Industry Development Officer (EIDO), Mr. Ronnie Golopitu was in Kirakira last week as part of a delegation from SICCI, the Pacific Horticultural and Agricultural Market Access Program (PHAMA) and Commodities Export Marketing Authority (CEMA) to conduct a five-day Cocoa and Copra Processing Quality Assurance and Marketing training for rural farmers in the province.

Mr. Golopitu said participants at the workshop were encouraged to be more organised and think Agribusiness as the way forward.

“It is part of SICCI’S strategy to provide relevant trainings, networking and information sharing delivery for its members and potential members especially SMEs to help them grow businesses in a more sustainable way.

“Establishing a Chamber base in the provinces is one other way to achieve a vibrant private sector in the provincial level,” he said.

Provincial Investment Officer, Mr. Selwyn Aharo and Agriculture Principal Officer, Mr. Michael Tanisapa, both of whom are based in Kirakira, acknowledged the role SICCI plays in the country and encouraged registered businesses in the cocoa and copra chain to register as members of the peak body representing private sector in the country.

SICCI through its Export Industry Development Department focuses on supporting businesses in the Agribusiness sector through the improvement of existing market arrangements and by reducing barriers for existing Industry Working Groups representing Coconut, Cocoa, Sawn Timber and Horticulture.

SICCI’s Export Industry Development Officer’s (EIDO) role is to progress development of these Industry Working Groups (IWGs) into representative and sustainable industry bodies, and to progress relevant market access related activities to assist in export industry growth in Solomon Islands.

The fundamental aim of the IWGs is to encourage the development of public private partnerships (joint industry and government consultative groups) that could be bring stakeholders together to address market access issues.

Mr. Golopitu added that SICCI sees the importance in providing an avenue for rural entrepreneurs to have access to trainings which will enable their businesses to grow and find out what other support is available through their Chamber of Commerce.

“This is because businesses in the provinces often lack access to business networks and support systems as compared to businesses in Honiara,” he said.

 

SICCI partners with PHAMA Plus, CEMA to deliver training for farmers in Makira

Twenty (20) rural farmers and entrepreneurs in Makira/Ulawa Province are now equipped with the relevant knowledge to produce good and quality Copra and Cocoa to meet requirement needed in exporting their products.

This was following a Cocoa and Copra Processing Quality Assurance and Marketing training conducted in the provincial capital Kirakira from 10th – 13 May 2021.

The training was funded by the Pacific Horticultural and Agricultural Market Access Program (PHAMA), coordinated by the Export Industry Development Department of the Solomon Islands Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SICCI) and facilitated by Commodities Export Marketing Authority (CEMA).

It targeted those involved in the export supply chain of Cocoa and Copra to ensure consistent supply of quantity and quality production is achieved.

The training also covered the preparatory tasks farmers should be aware of in preparation for the implementation of the Registration of Cocoa Processing Facilities which includes drying facilities, fermenting boxes and storage sheds as stated in the CEMA Act 2013.

This is also in line with the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock’s 10-year Strategic Plan detailing all processing facilities to be registered so that good quality copra and cocoa can be effectively monitored, tracked and traced back to its original processing facilities while ensuring the quality of copra and cocoa production supply in the Solomon Islands.

SICCI’S Export Industry Development Officer (EIDO), Mr. Ronnie Golopitu said the Cocoa and Copra Processing Quality Assurance and Marketing training was the first of its kind to be jointly conducted with the aim of providing basic information on the practices of producing and processing good quality and marketing of cocoa beans and copra to those in the supply end.

“Noting that, it is of paramount importance that only top-quality copra and cocoa will determine the quality of these products and ensure good overseas market preferences,” he said.

Mr. Golopitu said cocoa and copra are the longest standing commercial smallholder income generating activity in our provinces which of importance to the national economy and to rural households.

He further acknowledges the fact that Makira/Ulawa Province has been recently identified as a cocoa hub with an increased provincial production of around 2.3% in 2020 and an increase by 6% in copra production in the same year.

Overall, the training was described as a success as evident from feedbacks received from participants as they have now identified their weaknesses in the cocoa and copra value chain.

Participants are looking forward to utilise the skills and knowledge gained from the five-day training in producing good quality copra and cocoa to meet export standards and requirements as a way forward.

The partnership between PHAMA, CEMA and SICCI continues to be key in reaching out to businesses of the export sector that are based in the provinces.

About the author

Philip Lilomo is the Chamber's Media & Communications Officer. Philip writes most of the Chamber's media releases. He also manages the website contents, designs the Chamber's monthly newsletter, brochures and maintains the organisation's visual branding. 

Philip can be contacted on email: media@solomonchamber.com.sb 

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