NEWS

Big Lau Plan

New chairman of the Lau Provincial Council, Ilisoni Taoba, yesterday revealed big plans for the province. He said he wanted Lau to develop the lucrative sandalwood trade to stimulate economic
06 Nov 2014 12:47
Big Lau Plan

New chairman of the Lau Provincial Council, Ilisoni Taoba, yesterday revealed big plans for the province.

He said he wanted Lau to develop the lucrative sandalwood trade to stimulate economic growth.

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama yesterday announced Mr Taoba’s appointment. Mr Taoba replaces Dr Jiko Luveni who is now the Speaker of the House of Representatives.

Mr Taoba thanked the PM for having faith in him.

While he would continue with the programme started by his predecessor, he said he had additional plans.

He said he would concentrate on developing the land adding that he would like to see sandalwood planted in all districts. The sea, he said, had been over-fished.

“Sandalwood is something that will bring in money to the people but he it has to be planned well,” he said.

Mr Taoba said they could not police their fishing ground or even have fish wardens because they had to be paid.

People from all provinces, he said, fished in their fishing grounds and he encouraged the people of Lau to make good use of their land.

There has been a surge in worldwide demand for sandalwood products, particularly from the premium perfumery industry. Sandalwood farming has been growing slowly in Fiji because of its delicate nature.

In Lakeba a sandalwood tree sold for $7700 from a hardwood weight of 259kg in 2011 while in Bua a tree fetched $16,000. Prices are expected to be much higher now.

In January this year, a buyer in Australia paid $27,000 for a tonne of sandalwood. Sandalwood seedlings take 30 to 90 days to germinate and four to six months to grow up to 20cm to 30cm. They take seven years to mature. The older they grow the most expensive they become.

Meanwhile, Mr Taoba said they had good discussions with the delegation from East Sepik province of Papua New Guinea yesterday.

He said they would now sign a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to cement their talks and relationship.

A member of the PNG delegation, Ricky Wobar, said this would be a god opportunity for the East Sepik province to trade with Lau.

“We have been trying to merge with the Lau province for some time and today marks the day when we will be stamping our relationship with the people of Lau,” he said.

Feedback: maikab@fijisun.com.fj

 

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