Auluta Tribes Applaud Gov’t and Calls for Step-up to Establish Commercial Rice Farming
Leaders of three tribal groups within the Auluta basin area in East Malaita have applauded the National Government for accepting the offer to develop commercial rice farming in the area.
Tribal leaders and people from Abukwaiara, Gwaibau’ula and Ambu lands attended an inaugural consultation and awareness meeting at Gete Health Center in East Malaita Thursday last week with Officials from the Ministry of Commerce, Industries, Labour and Immigration, the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock, the Office of the Prime Minister and Officials from the Malaita Provincial Government.
The meeting raised awareness for people on the processes, Government funding and budgeting, investment opportunities on rice farming, business models, feasibility studies and other areas that people need to be aware of to begin partnership in the proposed project.
The meeting formally informed people that the previous Auluta Oil Palm development proposed for the area was cancelled after feasibility studies found that Oil Palm was not viable for further development in the area.
As a result, tribal leaders of the three tribes visited Honiara in April 2022 to offer their registered lands for any development that is viable to be established on their lands that could address commercial ventures and for food security in that region.
Following the initial meeting in April 2022, the Government assigned technical staff from the Ministries of Commerce, Agriculture, OPMC and the Malaita Provincial Government to pursue the initiative with the tribes.
Last week’s consultation and awareness meeting clarified many questions from tribal representatives which culminated into a general consensus for the Government to prioritize the proposed commercial rice farming project as early as 2024.
Tribal leaders and representatives said since opening up their land for this venture, they are keen to support the government to ensure the project eventuates soon to lift them out of their financial struggles and to improve their livelihoods.
Head of the Government’s delegation and MP for East Malaita constituency, Manasseh Maelanga applauded the tribal leaders for opening up their land for development, especially, for the proposed commercial rice farming project.
He also commended the National Government for identifying and agreeing to Auluta basin to host the major commercial rice project for Malaita Province.
He informed people during the awareness meeting last week that the project is a priority project for the Government despite financial constraints on the national budget brought about by covid-19, the 2021 riots and the tight focus on the Pacific Games.
Maelanga assured chiefs and people of the three tribes that administrative work is ongoing to set up the project studies this year and the Government will step up its progress and funding for the project in 2024.
The Auluta basin covers both East Kwara’ae and East Fataleka constituencies. Once developed, the commercial rice farming project will improve and transform people’s livelihoods through commercial activities and food security.
-GCU Press Release