PS Vigulu on downstream processing

Ministry of Forestry and Research Permanent Secretary, Dr Vaeno Vigulu says Solomon Islands will continue to depend on and harvest its forest resources once its properly managed sustainably.

Even better off with much greater emphasis put into downstream processing which paves way for more added value to be exported.

Noting that the Democratic Coalition for Government Advancement (DCGA) has shown its commitment to achieving this in its policy statement mandated for the Ministry of Forestry and Research.

“Policy Area Objective 3, it states – partner with institutions and organisations in establishing the timber industry training course to provide downstream processing skills and knowhow to develop value adding to forest products.”

He explains that to fulfilling this practically, DCGA with its development partners has taken the extra-mile to prepare for this forthcoming expected changes to have the rightfully trained human resources in place.

This is where Solomon Islands National University (SINU) comes in to provide and offer trainings in this regard.

“We have prepared students to managing, rehabilitating, monitoring and participating in the logging and forest plantation industry but not in the downstream processing.

“We are pushing for sawmills, veneers and plywoods so companies can go into downstream processing because we see the future lies on added value than continue to produce and export round logs.”

The Permanent Secretary adds DCGA would like to see SINU particularly – the Faculty of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries to produce qualified human resource that will drive all government policies going forward. “To drive the policy of downstream processing which we lacked at the moment.”

Dr Vigulu acknowledges that it is very true that the country’s log export is going down.

“This is not because we are running out of forests but we would like to sustain our harvest from our island rainforest.”

In doing so, the Democratic Coalition Government for Advancement (DCGA) has taken a drastic step to implement the sustainable logging policy as of last year, with target to reduce round log exports.

The target last year was 1.9 million Cubic’s but eventually we did so at 2.3 million cubic metres approximately, which was less than 2.73 million cubic metres in 2018, the peak in the history of logging in Solomon Islands.

This year’s target is 1.3 million cubic and we are on track to achieving this figure with aim to further reducing it to a sustainable level, he explains.

“Our target for sustainability is 400,000 cubic metres per annum from natural forest and 300,000 from plantation forest. A total of 700,000 cubic metre per year so we can still contribute to the country’s economy.

“So, harvesting of forest is not going to stop, we like it to be at a sustainable harvesting rate and at the same time help to address other areas and related issues such as climate change, a cross-cutting issue that is currently affecting us as well.”

The Permanent Secretary says the fact that forestry industry is the main contributor of revenue in the country, a total reduction harvest of forest will mean leaving a gap created. With hope that other productive and resource sectors will fill-in the gap including other service providers as well.