The two Recipients with members of the Technical working group

The Ministry of Foreign affairs and External Trade witness another Milestone achievement for the Solomon Islands Enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF)  on Thursday with the signing of an agreement for two successful applicants of the recently advertised EIF cassava and taro Projects.

The Enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF) is a multi-donor programme which supports Least Developed Countries (LDCs) in their effort of promoting economic growth and sustainable development by addressing their trade and trade-related constrains in order to build their capacity to trade and take advantage of global trade.

 Under the Solomon Islands EIF program a Tier 2 Project known as the Solomon Islands Enhanced Capacity for Agriculture Trade (SI-ECAT) was endorsed and currently being implemented by the EIF National Implementation Unit (NIU) which is based within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and External Trade. 

MFAET PS. Mr Collin Beck and Dr Rex Maukera of Goshen
MFAET PS. Mr Collin Beck and Dr Rex Maukera of Goshen

The focus of the SI-ECAT is on the Agriculture sector particularly in helping supply side constraints

SI-ECAT aims to boost exports of key agricultural commodities, namely taro and cassava, by establishing an appropriate policy environment to increase investment and tap into existing value chains, and boosting the capacity of local testing facilities to ensure compliance in the area of food safety.

As part of its activities the SI-ECAT project  advertised in the local media for interested companies to forward expression of interest for funding by the SI-ECAT project.

A total of 13 applications were received and they were screened by the EIF Technical Working Group (TWG). There were also baseline assessment undertaken for shortlisted candidates / exporters to bench mark against the proposal received.

The TWG is chaired by the Policy Secretary Productive Sector PMO Dr. Samson Viulu and consists of Senior officials from the National Public Health Laboratory (NPHL) with the Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MHMS); Planning Division Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MALD); Marketing and Export Promotion Division with the Ministry of Commerce; and the Department of External Trade, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and External Trade (MFAET).

PS  Mr. Collin Beck for MFAET with General manager for Varivao Benjamin Hageria
PS Mr. Collin Beck for MFAET with General manager for Varivao Benjamin Hageria

After the screening two successful applicants were selected and these two are Varivao Holdings and Goshen Enterprises.

Varivao holdings which is based in Honiara will be dealing with exports of Cassava and Goshen which is Auki based will deal with Taro export.

 Speaking during the signing ceremony on Thursday, the Permanent Secretary (PS) for MFAET Mr. Collin Beck congratulated the two entities for their successful application and also   spoke of the importance of the Agriculture sector to the Country.

“Although the funding of $100,000 sbd  to each of your companies may not be enough it is our hope that you will make use of this funding to ensure that your companies expand and meet export requirements for your Cassava and Taro Exports,” the PS said.

In response the two successful companies thanked the EIF for providing the funds saying the funds came at a right time with the backlash of the COVID-19 to local exporters.

“I would like to thank everyone who has been involved in the entire process of selection and implementing this project,

“Be rest assured that my company will make of these funds and ensure that our exports of cassava are done according to international export standards, “the General Manager for Varivao Mr. Benjamin Hageria said.

The signing between the two companies and the PS of MFAET will pave way for the EIF project to provide $100,000 sbd funding to them.

 The two companies will also be monitored by the EIF team on how they will spend the money. This is part of EIF’s monitoring on how their funds are being spent.

Meanwhile the Managing Director for Varivao also announced that his company was looking at potentially sending a first container of Cassava to overseas market in the coming months.

“However this will still depend on the ships that will be available during this time of COVID 19 crisis, “he said.