Supporting economic growth and public health in the Solomon Islands
In April, Cawthron Analytical Services team members, Sam Murray and Ron Fyfe, travelled to Honiara, Solomon Islands, for a five-week placement to assist with developing the testing capacity of the National Public Health Laboratory. This is a three-year project that is jointly funded by the United Nations - Food and Agricultural Organisation (UN-FAO), and the Standards and Trade Development Facility (STDF), and has been ratified by the Ministry of Health & Services, Solomon Islands.
The project has two main focuses. The first is public health i.e. safe water to drink and food to eat, which is a priority development area for the Ministry of Health in the Solomon Islands. The second is economic development through access to overseas fish export markets. While in country Sam and Ron established testing protocols, developed essential quality systems, and liaised with key government officials and industry stakeholders.
This project will strengthen the laboratory’s capacity to monitor and evaluate contamination risks associated with water and food, and assess tuna products for export. Training of laboratory staff to international standards underpins the aims of the project. By May 2020 it is anticipated that the laboratory will be assessed as ready for ISO 17025 certification.
The Solomon Islands fishing industry is one of the country’s major industry sectors, employing more than 2000 people and contributing substantially to the national economy. Processed fish (mainly canned tuna and cooked tuna loins) are among the Solomon Islands’ top three commodities with the highest revenues from international trade. The Solomon Islands has been approved to export fish to the European Union (EU) and the EU is its largest destination market. Maintaining access to the EU and other international markets is a national priority, as they are worth approximately US $45 million per annum to the Solomon Islands economy.
This project is an example of how Cawthron Analytical Services expertise in food safety testing and quality systems extends beyond New Zealand’s borders. We have been undertaking consulting work in the Pacific for more than 10 years now and, although challenging at times, it is very rewarding and a great opportunity for our technical staff to participate in projects of this nature.
To learn more about our work in the Pacific visit: