Food and Agriculture (FAO) Samoa Office and the Solomon Islands National University (SINU) on behalf of the Faculty of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries in the presence of Ministry of Forestry and Research has cemented on mutual agreement to offer forestry degree courses here, starting in 2021.
This continuous collaboration and partnership between MOFR and SINU is a lead up from a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) sealed earlier last year for both to share relevant information’s and data, enhance training experience opportunities, collaboration on forest related works and on capacity development.
Permanent Secretary, Dr Vaeno Vigulu says the ministry is indeed grateful that finally as a sovereign country with lots of potential on its forest resources, will now offer higher qualifications in Forestry Science.
He noted the need to support the management and utilisation of our Island forests which is unique to others in the region and across the tropics is vital, equally it is the need to know more of our forest and the forest ecosystems across our country.
He adds that the government is supporting this initial initiative under its policy and also would like to acknowledge the partnership of Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the Integrated Forest Management (IFM) Project for their support in foreseeing a greater need in the forest sector.
“As noted in the Democratic Coalition Government for Advancement (DCGA) Policy Strategy, and is mandated for the Ministry of Forestry and Research on Policy Area Objective 3, it states – partner with institutions and organisations in establishing the timber industry training course to provide downstream processing skills and know how to develop value adding to forest products.”
He stresses that to manage and grow the forestry industry, we need higher qualified and skilled foresters to work in the Government, the Industry, the Institutions and become entrepreneurs themselves in their own customary land.
“The Course, will improve implementations of the National Forest Policy, Forest Law, Forest Regulations and Forest Practices and procedures to achieve sustainable forest management and growing the forest resource to continue support our forest industry going forward.
“More so to understand the Forest Policies, Forest law, Forest Regulations across such organisations will make it much easier to discuss, understand the non-compliances and mitigation measures can be identified and executed in the best interest of the country, especially to support the resource owners to maximise their benefits and support the national economy and government services,” says the Permanent Secretary.
Dr Vigulu also urges SINU, other developing partners and stakeholders to utilise this eye opener as avenue for capacity building at its fullest.
“This is a golden opportunity to support you in this area and I hope you will grab and further this opportunity and work with us including all stakeholders to provide a better forestry course that meets the expectations of all stakeholders in the forest sector.”
SINU Faculty of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Professor Prem Rai says it is welcoming to have this high degree program offered here at SINU.
“Through this LOA that we sign today I see new opportunities for our collaboration in many areas.”
He says the funding from FAO under the Integrated Forest Management Project is timely at a time when the faculty faces difficulties and the 2.2 million SBD for development of degree level in forestry and environmental science, institutional capacity within the faculty as well is comforting.
He adds this will go towards establishment of the faculties nursery facility for training of forestry students, establishment of a post training workshop for value added products, establishment of herbarium and biodiversity and establishment of computer laboratory for GIS and landuse planning.
This is an achievement for us all with one common goal; a structure to train competent human resource readily available.
Profession Rai also acknowledges and send his gratitude to the Solomon Islands Government under the Ministry of Forestry and Research, FAO and the IFM Project for the tremendous assistance and support.
“I am confident that we will be able to achieve more and even able to develop even a stronger relationship.
“I can assure you that the faculty will do whatever it can to develop this component to its successful.”
SINU Pro Vice Chancellor, John Usuramo also acknowledge the introduction of the degree programs for Forestry and Environmental Sciences as a way forward for the institution. He says considering the many challenges faced, gratitude and acknowledgement to those parties’ concern whom have demonstrated commitment to this fruition.