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HONIARA, Solomon Islands (April 14, 1998 - PACNEWS/Tohi)---A commercial Solomon Islands rice farm, at Metapona on Guadalcanal island, has harvested its first crop.

Speaking during special harvesting ceremonies last week, Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries, Doctor Steve Alumanu, said the government is encouraged by the obvious success of domestic rice production efforts.

The Ambassador of the Republic of China to the Solomon Islands, Thomas Hsieh, said rice growing became a Solomon Islands-Republic of China agricultural technical cooperation program priority after a series of experiments and field testing proved its viability.

The head of the Republic Of China’s agriculture technical mission in the Solomon Islands, John Chen, says his team plans to complete what ordinarily should be a five-year project in just three years.

The establishment of the 455 hectare commercial rice farm project at Metapona follows the success of another experimental rice farm near King George VI School in Honiara.

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