Kolombangara Forest Products Limited (KFPL) has launched a new processing plant for making pallets from plantation logs with the support of Australia’s Strongim Bisnis program which aims to encourage innovation in the private sector.
SolTuna is the plant’s first customer and will use the KFPL pallets, which are built to international export standards, to replace the pallets they usually import from Thailand.
KFPL General Manager Edwin Schramm, said the establishment of the pallet plant means KFPL is now employing extra staff on Kolombangara and exporting fewer logs by processing them directly in the country, boosting the local economy. Despite Solomon Islands’ high volume of timber exports, not many finished timber products are available locally, Mr Schramm said.
“It is amazing that Solomons exports so much timber, but we have to import it back as finished products. Now, we are processing and adding value to our own plantation logs, employing local people and adding to the value of the economy,” he said.
“KFPL thanks the people of Australia, who have made this possible through the Australian High Commission,” Mr Schramm said, referring to the support provided through KFPL’s partnership with Strongim Bisnis.
The pallet plant is a great example of what can be achieved when the private sector receives the support it needs to try new ideas and innovate, the Australian High Commissioner, Dr Lachlan Strahan said.
“We saw the potential of this partnership during our visit to KFPL and SolTuna in Western Province in May 2021 and now the vision has become reality. Australia is proud that this potential has been realised and will now generate concrete benefits to the Solomon Islands economy and its people through jobs and revenue,” Dr Strahan said.
KFPL was also very appreciative of the strong support they received from SolTuna for the development of the pallet plant. “We also thank SolTuna who have been working with us for about two years now to make this happen. SolTuna is a great local business, and we are proud to work with them,” Mr Schramm said.
SolTuna CEO Jim Alexander, said the company, which is the biggest employer in the country, was very happy with the quality of the pallets.
“The first batch of pallets we received look strong and well made,” Mr Alexander said. At SolTuna is our policy to keep as much of our business in local hands as a way of supporting the economy, Mr Alexander said.
“SolTuna is proud to continue showcasing the best of Solomon Islands. Not only is our tuna an iconic Solomon Islands product, but it will now be exported on environmentally friendly, Solomon Islands wood, processed into pallets, here on our own shores,” Mr Alexander said.
By processing the timber in Solomon Islands, KFPL is also supporting the environment by reducing greenhouse gases previously generated by the importation of pallets.
In addition, SolTuna will be able to use a Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified product which highlights that it uses pallets which are environmentally and socially friendly. Kiln drying at the pallet processing plant now also meets international phytosanitary standards.
- Press Release