Representatives of the Solomon Islands Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SICCI) and member companies on Saturday 18 April met with Under Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture & Livestock (MAL), Mr Michael Hoóta for an update discussion on rice stocks in the country.
Mr Hoóta is the Chairman of the NDOC Livelihoods Sector Committee, tasked to plan for livelihood and food security issues associated with the threat of the COVID-19 global pandemic.
Saturday’s meeting with SICCI and member companies heard that there is no shortage of rice in the country, and supply chains risks are being addressed proactively. Companies present were Solrice, Island Star, Low Price, Super Star, and QQQ.
Solrice, which has 70% of the market share in Solomon Islands, has six (6) weeks of stock in Honiara and four (4) to six (6) weeks of stock in the provinces. The company is expecting shipment this week followed by the next shipment on May 2 and while there’ll be an expected tightening of supply before the second week of May, supply will be enough until December.
Other suppliers that make up the remaining 30% market share, have some current stock available and also expecting 475 tonnes coming at the end of the month, however, after that further import is still uncertain at this time.
In a statement released today (Monday 20 April), SICCI said a common issue for our rice importers is having to find alternative suppliers as most of our rice is sourced from Vietnam, and the country has started imposing quota on its rice exports.
“To help rice importers when they’re investigating alternative suppliers, some policy measures were canvassed including reducing the 6.5% goods tax; and temporarily lifting the fortification requirement.
“A difficulty for our rice-importers is that Solomon Islands is not an attractive contract as we are competing with bigger volume, more regular buyers from other countries.”
SICCI, however, is happy to confirm that there is no shortage of rice in the country, and with the flagged short tightening before the second shipment arrives, people should not embark on panic-buying and mass-buying. In addition, doing so will mean that other households that cannot afford to buy many bags at once, will be disadvantaged.
The Livelihood Sector Committee is developing options to ensure food supply for Honiara is maintained in the event of a lock-down, as well as prepare for the recovery phase.
The Committee consists of development partners UN agencies, UNDP, UNICEF, UN Women, and also FAO and SICCI with Government ministries of Commerce, of Forest and also the Honiara City Council (HCC).
SICCI continues to supply to the Committee information for food assessments from its members who are retailers and food importers.