BY JENNIFER KUSAPA
PRIME Minister Manasseh Sogavare has praised Russell Islands, highlighting its huge potential in the coconut industry.
He however says this has not been utilised to its maximum capacity owing to a number of factors.
He made the statement in Tulagi during the 40th second appointed day anniversary Tuesday this week.
“There are challenges that hinders the development in Russell one relates to the defunct RIPEL and a number of legal proceedings that is before the courts.”
The second challenge is lack of consideration for down-streaming of coconuts (value-added) on locally owned plantations. Third, is the absence of proper set-ups in rural communities.
He said in 2020, a number of investor dialogue series were held, including preliminary consultation exercises, and several locations were identified to further downstream copra to crude and virgin oil.
He said farmers agreed to work together for down streaming of copra which will add value to the coconut products. Discussions ensued with key buyers of crude and virgin oil in Honiara and they were willing to continue buying the copra.
“Having this crushing mills means that copra production in Russell Islands will be milled into oil thus adding value to the raw product. This year 2021, funds were procured to ensure communities which mills will be given to have proper set ups. In close collaboration with the Central Islands Province agricultural officer stationed at Yandina, a consultation was carried out in communities to identify set ups and committees in preparation for formalization and registration of community companies in which the Mills will be operated. This activity is work in progress and will conclude soon.”
He also said parties anticipate the signing of several memorandums of understanding between the communities that will benefit directly from the coconut oil mills and Solomon Islands Government, Central Islands Province and Russell Islands Investment Forum (the recognised coordinated body) of the indigenous people of Russell Islands.