In thanking the Managing Director of Food Works Supplies Ltd, Mr. Tony Tepeaihana, the Permanent Secretary Mrs. Ethel Tebengi Frances urged that they make this undertaking successful because the ministry is counting on them to deliver a service that is so needed to boost poultry industry in the country.
The Permanent Secretary during the signing ceremony also explains that the project was selected because it satisfied two key government priorities the ministry is mandated to implement, being, import substitution and increase the production of food locally as a food security strategy under the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I was looking at some data forwarded to me by Biosecurity team showing a total of around $85million worth of poultry products last year making poultry products the highest value of imported meat into the country but these figures is more than that because the data was incomplete, now that is a huge problem to me because what it means is that whatever our poor farmers who work so hard every day out in our villages to bring into the country as export receipts are given back to overseas poultry farmers because we basically import chicken meat that could easily be produced locally by our own people,” she said.
Mrs. Frances continues to say that these are money that need to stay in the country to create more jobs for our people and we do that by increasing the production of poultry around the country.
Mrs. Frances said that it is her dream to see more local meat products in shops around the country. The Permanent Secretary said that she understands that Meat Lovers are producing local products and are already displaying them in their shelves and are developing a local brand so the ministry needs to support this great initiative by supporting our farmers to supply them more chicken that meets good husbandry practices and of quality.
The Permanent Secretary believes that to grow the livestock sector in the country, we must have enough breeding facilities, feed mills, and processing facilities like slaughtering and abattoirs. “At the moment, the greatest challenge to our farmers is fed for their birds like chicken and animals or pigs because they are very expensive and so to be able to compete with imported meat we have to address the areas that make our own products expensive and then keep supporting our farmers on good farm practices for quality birds and animals”.
At the moment Vuvula is the only supplier of day-old chicks and they struggle to meet the local demand from farmers.
Food works Supplies Ltd own its own processing facilities in Lungga East of Honiara and had over the years tried to buy chicken from our local farmers to process and sale but have issues with low supply and expensive price offer by the farmers because they have to try and make a profit for themselves as well. Mr Tepeaihana said that because of these challenges he decided to approach the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock for support. He made his first request last year but not until this year the Ministry considered his requests after he invited them to his processing facilities and where he intends to operate the hatchery and feed mill. Mr. Tepeaihana said, “I know the ministry team which included the Permanent Secretary were convinced when they saw how much I have already invested in my processing facilities”
Mr. Tepeaihana is also trying to support a group of poultry farmers who are forming themselves into an association so they can collectively address the issues they face especially with finding a buyer when their chicken is ready for harvesting and price of feeds.
Mr. Tepeaihana said that the members of the association were very excited when they heard that the ministry has approved his project and so he is grateful for the government support through the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock and is assuring the government that they will be committed to making this work for the good of our economy. He believes the support is going to change the lives of many local poultry farmers.