BY MAINE LIVETT AND BRIAN BETI in Gizo
National Government has Revived the Commodities Exporting Marketing Authority (CEMA) “to its previous form.”
Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare who was the guest of honor – attended a ground breaking ceremony in Noro to established a new buying centre and refinery mill in the western province.
According to a press statement, PM Sogavare said he is indeed humbled to bear witness to the revitalisation of CEMA and the manifestation of government policy.
“It was only some months ago that I launched the CEMA strategic plan in Honiara. Today we witness this strategic plan being rolled out,” Sogavare said.
In terms of achievements since Launching on May 31st 2021;
• CEMA signed Mou with SIG (MCILI, MALD & MID) for funding support of SBD$77m towards the seven-year revitalization and recapitalization strategy 2021 – 2027.
• SIG funding – MCILI and MID funding support for 2021 revitalization program and activities has been received from MoFT.
• CEMA signed a Mou with Central Islands Provincial Government to secure in Tulagi for the Refinery – downstream processing facilities establishment in Central Islands stating June 2022. Assessment of the land was completed with Hakama livestock establishment.
• CEMA signed a five-year lease agreement (2021 – 2025) with Pakera Enterprises at Pakera, Makira Ulawa Province to reestablish the buying center and a crushing mill.
• Completed physical assessments and bills of quantity of the Provincial buying centers in Noro, Pakera, Malu’u, Buala, Tarokukure, Lata and Tulagi.
• CEMA completed consultations with the following Provincial Governments on the CEMA reestablishment in the Provinces – Makira Ulawa, Malaita, Western, Choiseul, Temotu and Central Islands.
Key challenges include availability of land in the Provinces to re-establish Provincial buying centers; Socio-economic and Political stability; Timely availability of funds to implement and complete the strategy according to schedule; Quality assurance standards – ISO 17025 & 9000 standards; Rebuilding CEMA’s capacity.
Plantations salinity – replanting of coconut, cocoa, kava and other commodities are other challenges.
Prime Minister Sogavare said, Priority Activities are the reconstruction and repairs work on four buying centers at Pakera, Malu’u, Buala and Tarakukure to commence this month December 2021.
These centers are scheduled to open by February 2022 for commencing purchasing of key commodities – copra, cocoa, kava, spices, bechdemer, sea weed and others.
Land site preparations at Noro and Tulagi for the refineries, including the Malu’u, Pakera, Gojoruru, Tarakukure and Lata for crushing mills re-establishment.
Prime Minister Sogavare added, the government and CEMA are fully committed to serving Solomon Islanders.
He thanked the landowners for allowing their land for the project and thanks the CEMA Cabinet sub-committee, CEMA Board, CEMA Management and workers, Government ministries and others who have worked tirelessly to where the project reaches today.
The PMO Press release also stated that since its inception in the 80s to replace the copra and cocoa board, CEMA has engaged in both its regulatory and commercial functions as provided for by the Commodities Export Marketing Authority Act. It provided services to our people in the rural areas and subsidised certain commercial activities to stimulate economic growth and development in the rural areas.
The much vaunted Structural Adjustment Programs (SAP) of the late 90s saw the demise of CEMA and other statutory bodies. It also saw the abolishment of the government Public Works Department, and the deregulation of the Livestock Development Authority and others.
In his keynote address at the western province 38th second appointed day Anniversary in Gizo on Tuesday 14, the Prime Minister stated that “DCGA is also showing serious leadership by increasing its annual budget for Agriculture, which is the backbone of our nation Solomon Islands. The increase in budget allocations will allow the Ministry of Agriculture to also fight against pests and diseases.”
PM Sogavare also announced to the people of western province that next year the country will have the first ever bio-security treatment facility.
“This facility will enable us to export our fruits and vegetables to overseas market.
“The broader policy is to maximize the benefits that accrue to our country, from the utilization of our resources,” He said.