Australia’s Strongnim Bisnis is working with Kolombangara Forest Products Limited (KFPL) to support small timber growers (out-growers) on Kolombangara in Western Province, boosting the sustainable forestry sector and providing local communities with new jobs and more income.
The Australian High Commissioner, Dr Lachlan Strahan, and the Minister for Education and Human Resources Development, the Honourable Lanelle Tanangada, toured KFPL’s operations and met several out-growers on 11 May. Minister Tanangada is also the member for Gizo-Kolombangara.
KFPL started an out-grower program in 2013, helping small timber growers to sell their commercial-age plantation logs to the market.
KFPL General Manager, Dan Raymond, said “The KFPL out-grower program has returned more than SBD 11 million to 481 growers who have sold their trees. Out-growers know that they can gain a profit from growing plantations, and as a result they continue to plant around Kolombangara”.
Honourable Minister and Member of Parliament for Gizo/Kolombangara, Lanelle Tanandaga said “A new dawn of opportunities is provided by the Australian Government supported partnership between Strongim Bisnis and KFPL and I encourage my good people of Gizo/Kolombangara to embrace this opportunity. In support of this partnership, Gizo/Kolombangara Constituency will continue to support out growers and provide partnership arrangements for planting of at least 20,000 trees as out grower project in 2021. Let us plant trees for today’s generation and beyond.”
Strongim Bisnis will assist KFPL’s out-grower program by mapping existing smallholder lots, supporting out-growers to access accurate market information so they may manage their plantations more effectively, and helping out-growers to sell larger quantities of their logs.
Australian High Commissioner Strahan, said “The forestry sector plays a vital role in the Solomon Islands economy. But it is essential that it does so in a sustainable and socially conscious manner, protecting the environment and ensuring that its economic benefits are shared with people at village level.”
“KFPL is making an important contribution locally and nationally, producing timber in a sustainable way, paying taxes, employing several thousand people and working with local communities in partnership. Small-scale timber growers in Kolombangara have already proved that they can profit from KFPL’s out-grower program”, said Dr Strahan.
“This Strongim Bisnis initiative will help KFPL to extend the reach of its out-grower program, enabling more local producers to harvest and sell their timber,” he said.
Dr Strahan visited Kolombangara Island as part of his travel to Western Province. KFPL is one of only two large plantation growers generating considerable revenue and jobs through planted areas totalling approximately 30,000 hectares.