Solomon Islands’ first high-end furniture showroom was launched by Tropic Group Builders (TGB) with support from Strongim Bisnis, an Australian Government economic program.
The partnership showcases the potential of local plantation timbers such as teak and mahogany to be transformed into high quality furnishings.
The new TGB showroom in Honiara, set up as a studio apartment, includes furniture and joinery work made using local plantation timbers, from Kolombangara Forestry Plantation Limited (KFPL) another partner of Strongim Bisnis’.
At the launch of the showroom, Australian High Commissioner Dr Lachlan Strahan underlined Australia’s ongoing commitment to supporting Solomon Islands in strengthening the local timber plantation industry and sustainable forestry practices.
“The Australian Government will always be a strong supporter of exciting economic growth projects, especially those that encourage a more sustainable timber industry.
“This is a particularly great project because it not only allows TGB to deliver new high quality products, but it also boosts sustainable timber supplier, Kolombangara Forest Products Limited, another local Solomon Islands business. What an excellent collaboration,” Dr Strahan said.
“I’m glad Strongim Bisnis has provided some of the necessary equipment to kick start this new venture, including a solar kiln to dry the wood.”
Strongim Bisnis CEO Phil Montgomery said that although current timber demand is being supplied sporadically from natural forests the supply is nearly exhausted and a shift towards local plantation timbers is crucial.
“Unfortunately, native species have been over logged and will not be able to meet the expected increase in demand for housing in Solomon Islands over the next 2-3 decades,” Mr Montgomery said.
“Solomon Islands is fortunate that plantation species such as teak and mahogany thrive here and if managed well can produce high quality, export grade timber.
This partnership with TGB is an investment in the local timber plantation industry, encouraging the use of sustainably grown high-value plantation timber species rather than the alternative of becoming reliant on timber imports,” Mr Montgomery said.
Deputy Secretary for the Ministry of Commerce, Industry, Labour and Immigration (MCILI), Mr Eric George Ongoa, spoke positively of the partnership between Solomon Islands and Australia that made this pilot project possible.
“This venture reflects the strong collaboration and partnership between Solomon Islands and Australia, through Strongim Bisnis to support our local plantation timber industry,” Mr Ongoa said.
“The project showcases the benefits of creating a commercial value chain within domestic markets that links our local timber plantations with local timber product manufacturers,” Mr Ongoa said.
TGB Operations Manager, Jean Fuo-Luiramo, expressed her gratitude for the support provided to move into high-end furniture making and the encouragement to used locally sourced plantation timber.
“We are grateful for the support of the Australian Government in helping us to bring this new venture to life and are happy to be supporting local timber plantations,” Ms Fuo-Luiramo said.
“Although we are an established business this showroom marks the beginning of our high-end furniture journey. We look forward to progressing this arm of our business,” Ms Fuo-Luiramo said.
Strongim Bisnis partners with TGB to promote the use of locally available SI plantation timbers which has high potential to reduce the reliance on natural forest timbers and avoid timber importation.
The program works with local partners in the cocoa, coconut, tourism, financial services, timber, horticulture and waste management sectors.