A WESTERN Province landowner has rubbished claims that a company invited to develop an agro-forestry project in the Roviana Lagoon several years ago has failed to replant the area.
Bulacan was invited by landowners after they were granted an agro-forestry permit, which enabled the people to plant cocoa on Honiavasa Island.
But another man, claiming to be a landowner, Pope Ziru, said no replanting had taken place in the area.
“Who is Pope Ziru to make such an outrageous claim,” David Gina who managed the agro-forestry project, said in an interview in Honiara yesterday.
“I’m one of the elders of Sasavele Village who personally attended the whole Cocoa project, as project manager.
“If Mr Ziru is saying that we didn’t plant anything I ask him to come and visit the site so he could see with his very own eyes what we have done.”
Mr Gina was responding to an article published in the Solomon Star and Island Sun newspapers on Monday.
The article was attributed to Mr Ziru, who said Bulacan, the company that obtained the licence, had never replanted the area.
But Mr Gina said the claim is “absolute rubbish”.
In the first place Bulacan has never been granted an Agroforestry permit. It is us the land owners who applied for and was granted the permit.
“We then invited Bulacan for the project due to their on-going logging operation in our area in RIKI RIKI in Roviana as well.
“But we don’t know who Mr Pope Ziru is. If he’s a landowner, we really don’t know who he represents,” Mr Gina said.
“It is unfair for Mr Ziru to say that we never replanted.
“Bulacan gave us the full support financially as well as providing transportation from Honiara to transport all the cocoa seedlings that Bulacan purchased from the European Union headquarters in Honiara.
“Aside from that, plastic bags and net for the nursery and even the wheel burrows and some tools for replanting were supplied by Bulacan,” Mr Gina said.
“To day we’ve planted a couple of hectares of cocoa on Honiavasa, part of Nusa Roviana Island. The trees now are fruiting,” Mr Gina said.
“Furthermore I would like to point out that the project actually provided a source of regular income for both the communities and individuals in the area. These are people who came and took some seedlings and planted their own lands back in 2011,” he said.
“As for Mr Ziru, I don’t know who he is, where he comes from or who he represents,” Mr Gina said.
“He should stop talking non-sense and making unfounded allegations that appear to have been made on behalf of other unknown parties.”