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HONIARA, Solomon islands (April 26, 1998 - PACNEWS)---Moves by a Malaysian company to develop the largest oil palm plantation in the Solomon Islands --on Vangunu Island in Western Province-- has made little progress during the past two years.

The Agriculture and Fisheries Minister, Dr. Steve Aumanu, said while the Alliance for Change government supports the project initiated by the Mamaloni government two years ago, no agreement has yet been reached with the developer, Kumpulan Emas Berhad of Malaysia.

Dr. Aumanu said the two parties have yet to come to closure on such matters as land rates, duty and taxation concessions and environmental impact issues, but, he adds, negotiations are continuing.

The Vangunu oil palm project is expected to cover 10,000 hectares of government land.

The only other palm oil project in the Solomon Islands, the Commonwealth Development Corporation plantation on the Guadalcanal plains, covers 7,000 hectares of land.

Palm oil ranks third among the Solomon Islands' export earners, behind logging and fisheries.

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