BY JOHN HOUANIHAU
VALUE Added Timber Association has reached a milestone in teak plantation forestry in the Solomon Islands after exporting tons of quality teak from certified plantations owned by its members, who are rural teak farmers in the country.
Value Added Timber Association (VATA), a non-profit organization was formed in 2004 as part of a forest management initiative established by the Solomon Islands government’s Ministry of Forestry and Research Forest.
The Association has been supporting local rural teak farmers in exporting their teak round logs and milled timbers since 2010. The active members of the VATA are TASI PARI Forest Association in Guadalcanal province, the Florida Forest Farmers Association in NGella, Central Island province, and the Gao Bugotu Teak Farmers Association in Isabel province.
VATA’s Project Manager, Julius Houria told ENVIRONMENT MEDIA that teak farmers from the respective member associations have made their harvesting operations this year, 2023 after the COVID-19 pandemic impacted the country.
“VATA yearly sales often reach SBD 7 million before COVID-19. Our members often mill their wood, provide us with the stocks, and then we export them, and after the money gets back to the teak farmers in the rural villages.
Julius said for the benefit of its members, VATA is in charge of gathering, processing, and exporting locally milled teak timbers and round logs of its member associations.
“VATA’s mission is to optimize members’ access to the benefits of their forest resources.
“Reko of Tasi Pari Forest Association in East Guadalcanal was the first to mill teak this year after we conferred with them.
“Teak tree felling is now taking place in the Central Islands and Isabel,” he added.
Likewise, he recalled that Strongim Bisnis has recently provided milling equipment worth $2 million to serve the member associations of VATA. The equipment is: three sawmills, three chainsaws, four Yamaha generators, a solar kiln dryer, a drone for mapping, clinometers for forest inventory, compasses for establishing plantations, and full nursery tools and materials.
He said that VATA exports teak trees to Malaysia, India, Australia, and New Zealand.
“The cost of VATA is around SBD 3, OOO per cubic. You should anticipate receiving US$700 per cubic foot if you export, from which we would deduct charges.
“India acquired it at US$260 per cubic when we (VATA) exported round teak logs, 13 cubic meters equivalent to 25 trees; depending on the trees, it may be resized into 2 or 3 logs.
“If you multiply $US 260 x 13.5 this will add up to US$3,510. Thus we see that milling has more returns and is more economical than selling or exporting round teak tree logs.
“Teak trees must have a minimum diameter of 20 centimeters and a minimum length of 2.1 meters,’’ he said.