Feb 02 3:42 PM - PAPUA New Guinea's New Britain Palm Oil Limited has been given the green light to rehabilitate the palm oil industry in the Solomon Islands.
Radio Australia reported yesterday that the Solomon Islands Foreign Investment Board had given the -go ahead- for New Britain Palm Oil Limited (NBPOL) to take over and rehabilitate 6,300 hectares of abandoned palm oil plantation on the main island of Guadalcanal.
Radio Australia reported that NBPOL had agreed to hand over 20 per cent to the local landowners in return for use of their land.
Both the landowners and NBPOL then agreed to form Guadalcanal Plains PalmOil Limited.
The oil palm plantation was the major source of revenue and employment for the local people and for the country before the country was devastated by two years of ethnic violence from 2000.
NBPOL was not able to respond to questions sent by the Post Courier.
The company said last year that it had set January as the date to enter and develop the oil palm industry in the Solomon Islands.It said then that any entry into the Solomon Islands and its takeover of Solomon Islands Plantations Limited would have to depend on final approval from Solomon Islands authorities.
But industry sources say the expansion of NBPOL into Solomon Islands was a preferred option as land had become a problem in the West New Britain Province where much of the land was customary land.
Malaysia based Kulim Group of Companies is the majority shareholder of NBPOL after a decision by former owners, Harrison and Crossfield to off load its plantations and the decision by the Government of Papua New Guinea to privatise its State owned enterprises.Kulim managing director Ahmad Mohamad said in Mosa, WNBP last year that their expansion to Solomon Islands would not be the end of the group's expansion plans.
"We have planted the seeds of sustainability in the corporate world," MrMohamad told participants at the bi-annual Kulim Conference at the company's Mosa Estate.
"We will continue to add value to the palm oil industry and with our expansion to Solomon Islands, our aim is to double our current planted area sites in 2007."