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By Joy A. Rikimae

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, Feb. 20) - Landowners of the proposed East Fataleka and Auluta East Kwara’ae Palm Oil Project received a total of SB$300,000 [US$43,000] from the government as a token of appreciation for allowing their land for palm oil development.

An amount of SB$150,000 [US$21,000] was presented to the Auluta East Kwara’ae Resource owners Association and SBD150,000 to the East Fataleka Resource owners Association.

These are the two associations that have allowed their land for the proposed development.

After receiving the two checks, the executive committees of the two groups met to discuss how to use the money.

The Auluta Basin landowning group was led by Mr. Gabriel Tommy while the East Fataleka group Mr. Ronald Fugui.

Solomon Star now understands that the money will be use to assist individual trust boards in the process of registration.

When receiving the check, Fugui told his fellow resource owners that what they have signed on Saturday was not a dead warrant but for their future and the future of their children.

Fugui said during and after the ethnic tension he had been urging his wantoks and relatives to return to Malaita.

"However, there is one question that my people of Fataleka have asked me in reaction to what I said. If we go back to Malaita, what will we do, who will give us work?" Fugui recalled.

However, on Saturday Fugui said their question had now been answered.

"The answer to the question that you have asked me is what we see today," Fugui said after the signing ceremony.

He also urged the government not to fail the people of Malaita.

"We have shown our willingness in shaping up for the development and have now allowed our land to be surveyed for the project," he said.

The landowners also presented two nine feet tafulia (shell money) to the Deputy Prime Minister Mr. Toswell Kaua as a gift from the resource owners.

There will be three plantation systems, which will include a nucleus plantation that is to be investor driven, and the small-scale palm oil system and the village out-growers scheme locally driven by landowners and their communities.

This proposed system will be the first of its kind in the country and it is hoped that the success of the Auluta and East Fataleka Project, will be replicated in other parts of the country that have recently shown interest in embarking in oil palm development.

These areas include Waisisi on Malaita and Choiseul Province Oil Palm.

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