Solomon Islands first ever pallet plant, funded under the Australia-Solomon Islands Partnership, was launched last week at a community ceremony attended by the Minister for Education and Human Resource Development and Member for Gizo-Kolombangara, Hon. Lanelle Tanangada and the Australian High Commissioner, Rod Hilton.
The Kolombangara Forest Products Limited (KFPL) plant was built under a partnership with Australia’s private sector development program, Strongim Bisnis. It was built using local labour and employs six full time highly trained staff produce quality products. Local company SolTuna has used KFPL’s pallets to replace pallets previously imported and transport SolTuna cans and tuna loins for export.
Australian High Commissioner, Rod Hilton said Australia is committed to economic growth in Western Province, highlighting the benefits of the KFPL pallet plant to the community.
“Australia stands with Solomon Islands and Western Province to support local jobs and economic growth,” he said.
In 2021 KFPL signed an agreement to begin supplying their first customer, SolTuna, with a minimum of 5,000 pallets a year.
“This is a value-added project where the value, jobs and resources stay in the community for their benefit,” said Mr Hilton.
Mr Hilton said Australia was looking forward to continuing the partnership with KFPL and the people of Kolombangara to ensure sustainable jobs for the community.
The Minister for Education and Human Resource Development, Hon. Tanangada said she was happy to see KFPL providing jobs and support to the communities of her electorate.
“Congratulations to KFPL and Strongim Bisnis for making this a reality. I am happy to see this initiative provide jobs and benefit to local communities.”
KFPL General Manager, Edwin Schramm expressed his gratitude to SolTuna for their support as the plant’s first customer and to Australia for their ongoing partnership.
“Thank you SolTuna for purchasing our pallets. We have the wood you have the fish and together we supply two high quality Solomon Islands products,” Mr Schramm said.
Speaking at the launch, Strongim Bisnis Business Advisor, Zefi Keritina said the partnership with KFPL was crucial to achieving the program’s objectives in the timber sector.
“Our goal is to expand access to the market for small-holder plantation timber. We believe that establishing partnerships with key players in the industry, like KFPL, is key to achieving this goal,” Ms Keritina said.