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First shipment of Balsa set to depart Bougainville

The first shipment of Balsa wood from Bougainville is scheduled to depart this weekend, marking a significant milestone for the balsa industry in the region.

Speaking at a small but significant event where the first container was prepared for shipment earlier this week, ABG Vice President and Minister for Commerce, Trade and Economic Development Hon. Patrick Nisira, said it was a very exciting and historical day for Bougainville to actually have a first container of Balsa wood ready to be shipped to the East New Britain Province.

“This is the first shipment of Balsa that was harvested here in Bougainville, and this is the beginning of the development of Balsa industry in Bougainville,” he said.

Minister Nisira explained that this achievement is the result of a successful government-private partnership between the Autonomous Bougainville Government, through its Department of Commerce, Trade and Economic Development and Rarung Integrated Farming, a local Balsa farming group from Hanahan in the Halia Constituency.

The Balsa industry in Bougainville is supported by the ABG Ministry and Department of Commerce, Trade and Economic Development and the ABG Department of Primary Industries. They intend to use this first shipment as a learning experience to expand the industry further.

Minister Nisira explained that Rarung Integrated Farming had approached the government to assist with finding a market for their balsa wood. This initiative led to the formation of the government-private partnership that made this first shipment possible.

Rarung Integrated Farming, a local group of farmers from Hanahan in Halia constituency had begun planting 68 hectares of Balsa in 2016 and faced challenges in finding a market until they approached the Department of Commerce for assistance.

Representative from Rarung Integrated Farming, Eric Riku, acknowledged the Department of Commerce for their support and said three buyers were identified and an Australian owned company, 3A Composite, based in Rabaul was selected.

“We approached three companies in Australia and 3A Composite was selected as it is a major world renown supplier of Balsa,” he said.

Mr. Riku emphasized that this shipment was the first and they will be selling balsa products to 3A Composite over a three-month trial period, adding that the funds earned from this shipment will be the fruit of their hard work and sweat.

“The three-month trial period to sell Balsa is possible now and we thank the ABG Department of Commerce, Trade and Economic Development for making our sweat become a reality to put money in our pockets,” he said.

Secretary for the ABG Department of Commerce, Alex Kerangpuna, said that the department has assisted with K100,000.00 for this first shipment and thanked the Rarung Integrated Farming Limited for having that trust and confidence in the government through the partnership.

“Thank you Rarung Integrated Farming Limited for having that trust and confidence in the government to going into partnership and I appeal to others to come and work with the government to develop industries in Bougainville,” he said.

Over the past year, Minister Nisira and his team had led a fact-finding mission in East New Britain province to find a suitable buyer and market. They found that the Balsa industry was unregulated, prompting his Ministry and Department to begin developing policies to regulate the industry in Bougainville, given its growing importance to the region’s economy. 

Minister Nisira added that his Ministry and Department has plans to develop all the industries in Bougainville in alignment with the Bougainville Vision 2052 and its first medium term plan ensuring sustainable growth in the long run for Bougainville.

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