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Malaita registers 5000 hectares for development

By Eddie Osifelo HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, Jan. 19, 2010) - Government surveyors have registered more than 5000 hectares of land so far at Auluta in East Fataleka, Malaita Province.

Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock supervising permanent secretary, John Harunari revealed this to Solomon Star yesterday.

Mr. Harunari said with this figure, it paves the way for any investor to come and invest in Malaita now. He said the Government will put out an expression of interest towards the first half of this year.

"A plantation can start now with 5000 hectares of land," he said.

"Then during the process we can acquire more land."

Work on the Auluta Palm oil project started last March after the ground-breaking ceremony. However, the project was roll over to this year due to the financial crisis.

Harunari said the problem with Aulatu is because it operates on a customary land. He said it is different from Guadalcanal Palm Oil Project (GPPOL), which is a registered land.

However, Harunari said it’s the Government priority to see the project in Malaita start. He said this was the requirement in the Townsville Agreement signed between Malaita and Guadalcanal provinces in 2003.

Meanwhile, Harunari said Government plans to hold a ground-breaking ceremony for Waisisi Oil Palm Project in West Are Are around March or April this year. He said the Waisisi land is easy because resource owners have completed their genealogies. As such, Harunari said after the ground breaking, it will not take long for any investor to come and invest.

Besides Malaita, Government plans to start toil palm projects in Vangunu, Western, Choiseul and Shortland.

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