The co-operatives movement was started on Makira in the 1930s by Frederick Campbell (q.v.), the main planter on the island. He encouraged local people to produce copra and sell it to him for marketing. The BSIP government placed considerable emphasis on developing co-operative societies during the 1950s and 1960s, and established a Co-Operatives Department. The first Co-Operative Societies officer was appointed in August 1956, attached for a period to the Co-Operatives Section of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea to gain experience. Plans were to initiate the first co-operatives on Malaita, Nggela, Savo and Guadalcanal. (AR 1955-1956, 30) By the end of 1958, six small producer/consumer societies had been established in the Nggela Islands and on Guadalcanal under a Co-Operatives Association headquartered in Honiara. The Association purchased a 5-ton trading launch to bring in copra (q.v.) for sale and carry store supplies from Honiara. A consumer society was also established near King George VI School (q.v.) at Aligegeo on Malaita. There were plans to convert the Emu Harbour Re-Settlement Scheme on Ranongga Island in Western District into a co-operative. This was a large coconut estate that had been acquired to resettle Solomon Islanders whose livelihoods were devastated by a 1954 cyclone. (AR 1957-1958, 31)
By the end of 1960, there were thirty-four active and established primary co-operative societies, of which twenty-one were members of the Central Co-operative Association. All were for copra marketing, except for three general consumer societies and one fisherman's society in Honiara. Malaitans from Lau and Langalanga had for several years been using canoes with nets and hand lines from the mouth of the Mataniko River, and they were reorganised as a craft co-operative in 1960. They sold the fish at Honiara Market. The other general co-operatives began after the government stopped supplying rations to labourers at Kukum Agricultural Station and at Auki, and at Emu Harbour, Ranongga. In 1960, overall, there were 1,378 co-operative members, with consumer sales of £19,909 and produce sales of £24,469. (AR 1959-1960, 34-35) From April through June of 1962 J. Korini and J. Korinihona were sent to a joint Food & Agriculture Organisation-South Pacific Commission Regional Co-operatives Training Centre course in Suva, Fiji. By mid-1963 there were forty-seven co-operative societies in the Protectorate with 3,500 members and £28,500 in funds. The most successful were in the Western and Eastern districts, with the main failures in Central District. (NS Mar. 1962, 31 May 1963, 31 Oct. 1963)
By 1964, there were seventy-two co-operative societies but success was patchy and they continued to operate best in the Western and Eastern districts. The major advances in the Western District were the introduction of co-operative savings and loan operations, and in cocoa (q.v.) processing and marketing. Five co-operative cocoa processing units were operating at the end of 1964, purchasing wet beans from farmers, processing them and marketing the finished cocoa overseas through a secondary marketing association at Gizo. (AR 1963-1964, 39-40) In 1965, there were eighty co-operative societies; the main concentrations were on Vella Lavella (21), Isabel (10) and the Eastern Outer Islands (14), with Shortlands (5) and Choiseul (14) close behind. Active expansion was taking place in the west of the New Georgia Islands (7), in the northwest of Guadalcanal (8) and on Makira (4). Malaita, with the largest population, was trailing behind (2). (AR 1965, 40)
There were 138 co-operative societies in 1969, and 156 in 1970. Most of the new groups were primary product societies, along with some multi-purpose societies. Co-operatives continued to develop on Malaita, with eight new societies there in 1970, bringing the total to twenty-one. Of the BSIP 1970s co-operatives, 152 were considered Primary Societies. One hundred and ten were multi-purpose, twenty were for consumers, nine produced cocoa, and thirteen were for savings and loans. Four were Secondary Societies: two for general purpose, one for cocoa marketing, and one for investment. Turnover for Primary Societies increased from $523,131 in 1968 to $803,297 in 1969 (a 53 percent gain), to an estimated $830,000 in 1970. By then 8,230 people belonged to co-operatives.
In 1974 there were 190 co-operatives with just over eleven thousand members. Presuming five individuals in each family, about 55 percent of Solomon Islanders had some involvement in the co-operative movement, with about one-third of the co-operatives related to copra production and sale. There was also a considerable increase in the activities of wholesale co-operatives: two in Gizo and Honiara had an annual turnover of almost $1,500,000. Courses were run to train committee members, storekeepers and secretaries. (AR 1970, 48, AR 1974, 64)
- British Solomon Islands Protectorate (ed.), British Solomon Islands Protectorate News Sheet (NS), 1955-1975. Details
- British Solomon Islands Protectorate, British Solomon Islands Protectorate Annual Reports (AR), 1896-1973. Details