MEMBER of Parliament for North West Guadalcanal, Bodo Dettke has defended his call for all local noni farmers in the provinces to discontinue work on noni farming due to in availability of processing facilities in the provinces.
This is after former MP for Lau Baelelea in Malaita province, Walter Folotalu described the call as mere political rhetoric rather than looking for a way forward for this potential industry in the country and more particularly the rural areas where more than 80% of our rural dwellers find ends to meet.
However, Dettke said Folotalu has missed his point on the basis of the call.
He said after three years of research and study, he has perfected noni handling to achieve high quality products that will compete in the international market and put SI on the map.
“My experience over the three years and common sense, I am not questioning anybody’s political endeavours and powers.
“I for one know and proud to say Malaitan people are very hard working people, and they are not scared of taking on any challenge if it will benefit them,” he said.
“But I would be very sad to see if Malaitans are spending the next six months planting noni plantations without any income for the duration of time.
“And the duration of six months with no income generated, only to find out after 7 months to see noni farms flourishing with noni fruits but there is no buyer and factory to process them,” he said.
Dettke explained that farmers have to bring their noni products to a commercial factory within eight hours for processing, otherwise it would fail to meet the processing quality.
He said in some countries, there are factories situated within the farms to process the products rather than transporting them to another location.
However, Dettke said if Folotalu will overcome this problem by taking an initiative to put in place a factory to buy these people’s noni fruits, “I salute you and I am very proud that somebody from Malaita will take up the initiative.”
“I am only telling your people to stop, think and look to be cautious because they could be sorry if there is no factory,” he added.
Dettke gave an example of the 10,000 palm oil nurseries at Waisisi and Warokai in West Are Are that were abandoned projects. The palms that were in the nursery are now bearing fruits, but “still no factory”.
He said the project was fully funded by the Solomon Islands government but turned out a failure at the end.
He said this is similar to the oil palm project at Vangunu in Western Province, carried out by Sullvinia Product in the 80s that also failed despite millions of ‘taxpayers’ money ploughed in by the government.
“I’m sure, my good friend, Mr Folotalu, should be well aware of this failed projects, which took place when he was a member of parliament”.
But if Mr. Folotalu has the time, I would be happy to take him for a tour in my factory to see firsthand the pros and cons of this industry.
As such, Dettke said it is important to establish noni factory in each provinces, before farmers in the provinces can start cultivating their noni farms. All I’m saying is for farmers out there in the provinces to be cautious, before taking the big step into the noni industry.
“We will never be able to expand into the provinces, where this new noni industry is much needed, because we have not overcome problems we have with the ministry of finance that cannot see this as being an important commodity and cash crop to befit out rural people.
“It is sad that the ministry responsible chose not to support our application for tax incentives for the importation of machineries and equipment to expand the industry.
“Because of the lack of government support for the proposal to expand, the Noni factory had no choice but to stay focus on buying noni fruits for farmers within my constituency. So who is being rhetoric here?” Dettke questioned.