Information on SRI was introduced to the Solomon islands by Dr. Ravi C. Joshi, senior adviser to the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAL), who had learned of SRI while working on crop protection at the Philippines Rice Research Institute. At his suggestion, the Government of the Solomon Islands (though MAL) invited Norman Uphoff, Cornell International Institute for Food, Agriculture and Development, to visit the country and discuss the System of Rice Intensification (SRI) in November 2009. Following Uphoff's visit, the Cabinet of the Solomon Islands on January 25, 2010, approved a Cabinet Paper, introduced by the Minister of Agriculture and Livestock, Hon. Selwyn Riumana, recommending introduction of SRI in this Pacific Island nation. An SRI Coordination Task Force is being established to bring together all stakeholders in SRI development, headed by the Secretary for Agriculture and Livestock, Mr. Edward Kingmele, CBE, and with the assistance of Dr. R. C. Joshi, Advisor to the Ministry. In early January 2010, the Ministry signed MOUs with the Adventist Development and Relief Association (ADRA) and World Vision that included provisions for cooperation on SRI demonstration and dissemination. A National Rice Sector Policy document outlines plans to implement SRI during 2010-2015 timeframe.
National Rice Sector Policy Released
The Government of Solomon Islands has issued a National Rice Sector Policy, 2010-2015 which recommends low-input rice farming methods like SRI, with particular interest in rainfed versions of SRI since SI has limited irrigated or irrigable area. The policy paper says that the Government wants to work with Cornell and other SRI partners on this initiative, and MOUs have already been signed with several NGOs to promote SRI in this Pacific Island country. The white paper calls SRI ‘the key to the future of rice production in Solomon Islands.’ SRI colleagues in Indonesia have already indicated willingness to assist in training for getting SRI started in Solomon Islands.
Solomon Islands Government Endorses SRI Initiative
The Cabinet of the Solomon Islands (SI) on January 25, 2010 approved a Cabinet Paper, introduced by the Minister of Agriculture and Livestock, Hon. Selwyn Riumana, recommending introduction of SRI in this Pacific Island nation. An SRI Coordination Task Force is being established to bring together all stakeholders in SRI development, headed by the Secretary for Agriculture and Livestock, Mr. Edward Kingmele, CBE, and with the assistance of Dr. R. C. Joshi, Advisor to the Ministry. The Ministry has also recently signed MOUs with the Adventist Development and Relief Association (ADRA) and World Vision which include provisions for cooperation on SRI demonstration and dissemination
SRI is Introduced to the Solomon Islands, November 2009
The Government of the Solomon Islands (SI) through its Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAL) invited Norman Uphoff, Cornell International Institute for Food, Agriculture and Development, to discuss the System of Rice Intensification (SRI) and to consider how it could benefit from the opportunities that SRI is creating in other countries. Initiative for the visit came from Dr. Ravi C. Joshi, senior adviser to the Ministry, who had learned of SRI while working with the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice). A full week of meetings, presentations and field trips was arranged by the Ministry including visits to development projects, several embassies and donor agencies, and educational and training facilities. The visit to the Bolikolu/Lege Rice Project is shown at right (click on photo to enlarge). Details of the entire visit can be found in the trip report.
According to the Minister of Agriculture, Hon. Selwyn Riumana, the government’s National Rural Rice Development Programme was launched to reduce the Solomon Islands' current heavy dependence on rice imports. He made clear his interest in the development of rice production in the Solomon Islands with low-cost methods to the extent possible so that small farmers would have easy access to the opportunities. He was also concerned that adverse impacts on the environment be minimized, particularly protecting soil and water quality. Hence, there is interest in adapting SRI methods to the prevalent conditions.
Rice production, however, is something new in the Solomon Islands. Although SI diets have for centuries been based on the production and consumption of root and tuber crops (taro, yams, cassava), the demand for rice has been growing rapidly, and SI has the resources to grow much or most of its rice. SI soils are good, and in most areas, rainfall is well-distributed throughout the year. This makes upland rice production more feasible than in countries where precipitation is highly seasonal. In any case, irrigated agricultural areas in the Solomon Islands are rather limited at present, but increasing rainfed rice production appears quite feasible.
The primary technical assistance for the government's rice initiative is being given by the Taiwan Technical Mission (TTM), which is an important presence in this country. Unfortunately, reliance on chemical fertilizers and agrochemicals in the demonstrations have shown these ‘modern’ methods to contribute to lodging and susceptibility to pests (particularly brown planthopper), as seen for example in the photo on the left.
For reasons noted in the trip report, Uphoff and his hosts in the Solomon Islands believe that the country and its farmers could benefit from the opportunities which SRI offers. Also, the Solomon Islands could make some contributions to the further development of SRI and to agroecological knowledge and practice: (a) by refining and improving methods for upland SRI, and (b) by learning how to integrate SRI practices into root crop-based farming systems. It could also set some precedents for SRI for other countries in the Pacific region. Follow-up activities are being planned and will be reported on this site.
- Taki, Belden et al. 2010. National Rice Sector Policy (2010-2015). Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock, Government of Solomon Islands. System of Rice Intensification website. January. (17p., 315 KB pdf)
- Uphoff, Norman. 2009. Report on visit to the Solomon Islands for SRI introduction – November 8-14. CIIFAD. System of Rice Intensification website. (12p., 542KB pdf) [Trip report prepared for Cornell International Institute for Food, Agriculture and Development.]
The Solomon Islands SRI photos were provided by Norman Uphoff. (Single click on arrow to see the embedded slideshow. Double click on the photo showing to enlarge it).