LANDOWNERS of Mono in the Shortland islands, Western province have engaged in the agro-forestry over the past eight (8) months thanks to Tri-Jam and Solomon Resources Management.
Unlike normal logging practices, these two companies have engaged local land owning tribes to venture into some forms of development programs as required by the clause in the Forestry Act.
Under this program, logs are being cleared to allow for large scale development such as coconut, cocoa or palm oil plantation.
However, recently government had revoked its decision which blocked this forestry program on Mono. As a result operations have come to a halt.
And this had affected landowners who have been engaged in this program since last year.
Tri-Jam Manager John Prasad told the paper that it was a sad thing to suspend this activity because it had affected the landowners.
“We were so sad to have our operation revoked. Not because its our loss but the loss for landowners, and also the government.
“The projects we have for land owners will not stop running, as we are financing all these projects.”
Mr Prasad said, over the past 8 months, he has helped land owners in their agricultural projects to get them up and running.
“In just a matter of 8 months I have helped land owners and farmers with nearly $15,000 worth of coconut heads to support their project.
“We are only hoping that the government will soon have agro-forestry back soon.”
One of the land owners Remmy Billy who benefited from agro-forestry shared the success of his project.
“In just a matter of months, I have my projects up and running. I have planted more 2000 heads of coconuts in my plantation.
“We felt that we have benefited a lot from agro-forestry.”
He added, apart from agro-forestry, the company also assisted the landowners and communities with water supply, and build their local Churches.
But with the project being revoked some of the community projects such as the Church buildings are now incomplete.
“This is really a sad thing for us. This is not a normal operation that takes away everything; it operates and we benefit,” Mr Billy said.
Mr Prasad said that despite of the revocation, he hopes that local land owners do achieve something in return for their resources in the long run.
“Despite of the situation, I hope land owning tribes have benefited from projects we have started for them.”
The remaining financial support of the project worth nearly $20,000 was handed over to landowners yesterday.
“I have these remaining part of the agro forestry project handed it over to land owners to deal with as I will no longer involve in agro,” Mr Prasad.
The agro-forestry program kicked off in Mono, November last year.
Meanwhile Mr Remmy of Toanapina land, calls on the government to see the importance of agro-forestry on the island as well as support them to get the logs which are still lying idle at the logging points and in the bushes.
“We still have our logs still lying idle in camps or in the bush; the revocation means a huge loss for us land owners.
“Our trees were our money to keep our projects running.”
Tri-jam and Solomon Resources Management which operates agro-forestry project on Mono also sympathized with landowners.
“This would be a huge loss not only for us, but also for land owners and even the government. Logs will be left to rot in the bushes,” the two companies said.
By CHARLEY PIRINGI