By GABRIEL LAHOC
THE partnership of the three beneficiaries of the European Union (EU)-funded Africa-Caribbean-Pacific (ACP) Science and Technology (S&T) programme is strengthening the agriculture sector.
Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu, with their similar agricultural backgrounds, pledged to unite under the S&T for agriculture capacity-building with EU’s support.
At the launch of the programme at the National Agricultural Research Institute (NARI) headquarters in Bubia, Lae, representatives of the three Melanesian countries signed a memorandum of understanding with acting head of EU in PNG Dr Kay Beese.
NARI director-general Dr Raghunath Ghodake will act as programme leader and will work in collaboration with Edward Kingmele, the permanent secretary of Solomon Islands ministry of agriculture and livestock, and Dr Marie Melteras, chief executive officer of Vanuatu agricultural research and technical centre.
Dr Melteras said the S&T programme was the first of its kind but would help the three countries go forward.
“The basic agriculture capacity building is about understanding the environment and the market,” she said.
Mr Kingmele described the union under the programme as a milestone that would help Solomon Islands return to its normal state.
“Our country is slowly rebuilding itself in the wake of ethnic violence that flared some years back.
“Many good agriculture researchers fled because of the ethnic crisis,” he said.
NARI council chairman Dr John Kola expressed confidence in the new partnership, especially its influence on the rural communities of the three countries.
Dr Ghodake said EU had been a strong development partner in the Pacific and praised all responsible for winning the bid for the S&T programme.
Following the construction of the new dormitory, selected staff from the three nation’s agriculture sector would be trained in the NARI headquarters.