8 Mar 2005

Solomon Islands agriculture minister eyes gradual rice imports cuts

5:23 pm on 8 March 2005

The Solomon Islands minister of agriculture says it's important for the country to build local rice production and stop relying so much on imports for the staple food.

Alfred Sasako says this may help arrest the alarming increase in the price locals pay for rice, something he wants the Price Control Unit in the ministry of commerce to address.

He also says he's asked people to report any low quality rice following complaints in recent months.

Mr Sasako says a shipment of low quality rice was sold around Christmas, and blame can be partly attributed to misleading labels for a product thought to be from Australia but later found to be sourced from other countries such as Egypt.

"We also want to, in a gradual way, cut down on the import bill for rice. At the end of last year, in fact, the import bill came to a hundred million dollars, so that's a lot of money that could be used in some other social sector services."

The Solomon Islands minister of Agriculture, Alfred Sasako