SOLOMONS PUSH AGRICULTURE FOR YOUTH EMPLOYMENT

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Rice, oil palm projects in works

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Feb. 21, 2010) – The Solomon Islands Minister for Agriculture says the government is gradually making progress on promoting agricultural livelihoods such as rice and oil palm farming.

Selwyn Rimana has appealed to his country’s youth to stay and work in rural areas, making the most of the country’s natural resources.

[PIR editor’s note: High unemployment among Solomon Islands youth has been a source of growing concern, as increasing numbers of young people gravitate to Honiara, the nation’s capital, in search of jobs. Increased crime is among urban problems attributed to idle youth. ]

The Secretariat of the Pacific Community has called for Pacific island governments to support young people staying in rural communities by ensuring there are agricultural opportunities.

The Ministry is pushing Malaita province as a focal point for commercial oil palm plantations, and Mr Rimana is encouraging those who have left for Honiara to go back and work.

"And we are engaging in commercial rice undertaking where people could go back to the provinces and engage in rice production. So far our rice production has been very successful. We managed to reduce the price of rice in the shops and a lot of rural people are benefitting from the rice production."

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