Facilitating Agricultural Commodity Trade

The European Union-funded Facilitating Agricultural Commodity Trade (FACT) pilot project aims to support commercial ventures and producer groups in becoming export-oriented, market-driven enterprises that will consistently supply overseas markets with competitive agricultural and forestry products. The project is implemented by the Land Resources Division of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) in Suva, Fiji and started in May 2008.

MARKET WATCH: Responsible Forestry
Monday, 25 July 2011 14:06
The Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) is supporting Solomons Islands timber growers in meeting verification and certification requirements for responsible forest products.

The move towards Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification in Solomon Islands is being assisted by the European Union-funded Facilitating Agricultural Commodity Trade Project, which is implemented by SPC.

FSC certification is an internationally recognised guarantee that enables the sustainable development of forests, with a premium price and market access offered to those who are part of the certified wood supply chain.

To many in Solomon Islands, the idea of forest certification is new. However, Kolombangara Forest Products Ltd, the largest sustainable forestry plantation in Solomon Islands, has been FSC certified for over 13 years and, until recently, was the only forestry plantation company in the Pacific to hold that distinction.

Six months ago, a second Solomon Islands company, Eagon Pacific Plantation, gained third-party audited FSC certification, which ensures that the enterprise meets FSC’s principles while improving the plantation’s profitability and long-term market access.

Since obtaining the certification, Eagon Pacific has received a premium price of USD10 per cubic meter above current prices for every FSC-certified plantation log it has exported. This reflects the market demand for certified wood products in light of increased awareness of consumers and importing countries regarding the massive deforestation and degradation of forests around the world.

The European Union, United States and Australia are helping lead the world by legislating against illegal wood imports, which is impacting on processing countries such as China, and producers such as Solomon Islands.

Responsible businesses are pursuing certification in order to avoid prosecution under the new laws and stem accusations of supporting illegal and unsustainable practices. Additionally, responsible international organisations such as Oxfam, working in Solomon Islands, are demanding responsibly produced wood for local use.

To assist the three key groups in Solomon Islands’ forestry sector (i.e. community timber producers, wood processors and plantation growers), SPC recently held a workshop on FSC certification in Gizo, Western Province where attendees discussed the challenges of certification and how to find solutions for them.

The workshop also provided an opportunity for stakeholders to form an FSC National Initiative to promote FSC in the country.

The European Union-funded Facilitating Agricultural Commodity Trade (FACT) project is implemented by the Land Resources Division of SPC.