The report highlights that production in major crops, such as cocoa and coconut, has decreased due to flash floods, volatile prices, increasing pests and diseases, soil degradation, limited access to land, and lack of private and public investment in the sector, among other factors.
The report warns that efforts to enhance agricultural production should manage environmental effects as expanding croplands have a range of impacts on loss of forest cover, water quality, and cultural heritage and conservation sites.
The Ministry of Environment, Climate Change, Disaster Management and Meteorology (MECDM) of the Solomon Islands, with the assistance of the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), developed a report on the state of the environment in the country. The report highlights that the status of areas of cultivation and livestock production in the country is “fair” but that the sectors are lacking investment to develop sustainably.
The ‘Solomon Islands State of Environment Report 2019,’ approved by the Solomon Islands Government on 30 January 2020, uses the ‘Drivers, Pressures, State, Impact and Response’ (DPSIR) model to describe the state of the environment, and analyzes their most recent “conditions and grades” in relation to local and global goals. The State of Environment (SOE) report highlights that the agricultural sector of the Solomon Islands is the most important sector for the country’s economy, with subsistence farming being the predominant occupation of around 80% of the population. Further, it outlines that both the National Development Strategy 2016-2035 and the Agriculture and Livestock Sector Policy 2015-2019 of the country include targets and extensive proposals to sustainably increase the contribution of the sector to gross domestic product (GDP) of the country.
The 2019 SOE report describes challenges in developing the agricultural sector, with production in major crops, such as cocoa and coconut, having decreased in recent years. According to the report, factors that have contributed to this decline include flash floods, volatile prices, increasing pest and diseases, soil degradation, limited access to land, lack of private and public investment in the sector, as well as instability in the political and economic environment.
With respect to livestock production, the report highlights that subsistence production is the principal food production system but that there is potential for commercial agriculture. It states that around 90% of households keep one to five pigs, heads of cattle have declined dramatically over the years, and a thriving bee industry has produced over 75 tonnes of honey per year from 200 beekeepers.
The report warns that efforts to enhance agricultural production should manage environmental effects as expanding croplands have a range of impacts on loss of forest cover, water quality, and cultural heritage and conservation sites. Furthermore, according to Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) Statistics, the sector’s development has resulted in increased greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions between 1990 and 2016. The largest share of emissions from the sector comes from enteric fermentation (digestive process in ruminant animals) and manure management.
GHG emissions from the Solomon Islands account for 0.01% of global emissions according to its Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) submitted to the UNFCCC in 2015. The NDC does not include goals to reduce emissions from the agricultural sector but covers fossil fuels and forest sequestration, with fossil fuel use accounting for more than 95% of the reported national inventory. This means that the agricultural sector accounts for very small amounts of the total emissions in the country.
The 2019 SOE report praises the Agriculture and Livestock Sector Policy 2015-2019 for its extensive proposals to enhance agricultural production while managing the environmental effects, including promoting soil conservation and access to productive land, managing climate change effects, supporting pest management and biosecurity, and organic agriculture. The SOE calls for support for the implementation of the Agriculture and Livestock Sector Policy and management of the environmental effects of livestock production in order to reduce pollution of receiving environments. [Publication: 2019 State of Environment Report] [Publication Landing Page] [Solomon Islands Environment Data Portal] [FAO Statistics] [Pacific Environment Portal]
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This policy brief was authored by Dina Hestad, Ph.D., Thematic Expert for SDGs and Small Island Developing States.
This story was made possible with funding support from the Government of Sweden through the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and was developed with the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) using the Pacific Environment Portal, which enables users to find, access, and use regional and national data. The portal has been developed by the regional UNEP-GEF Inform project executed by SPREP, which has established national environment data portals in 14 Pacific island countries to help address the challenges of storing and accessing data. The online database of information and datasets aims to help improve decision making and reporting on the environment.