By SOLDIER BURUKA of DAL
The first formal meeting of the Kairuku-Hiri rice committee in the Central province has been successfully conducted.
The committee, formed under the auspices of the Central province commercial rice project being planned for the Kairuku-Hiri district, was held at Agevairu on Nov 14.
A project consultant with the Department of Agriculture and Livestock, Andrew Kavana, who was also chairman of the meeting, said there was a good turnout, especially by the chairmen of the four area committees from Mekeo, Roro, Aroa and Vanapa/Brown River.
Also in attendance were representative village chiefs, incorporated land group chairmen, and officials from DAL and Central provincial administration.
Kavana said that a wide range of issues were discussed including the special agriculture business lease (SABL), formation of ILGs for the purpose of participating in the project, progress and importance of land mobilisation in project sites.
He advised the meeting that a team tasked to mobilise land was still processing ILG registrations at Aroa, while the land investigation report was expected to commence soon after.
Kavana also informed the meeting that the project needed to prepare and complete a human resource data for the purpose of employment during the project period.
Copies of DAL’s work plan and the draft deed of agreement were distributed to the area committee chairmen for their comments.
Among the comments made during the meeting were that awareness on the project must continue to be carried out at all levels of the community, including awareness of ILG matters.
The committee was also asked to provide resources to enable the representatives to perform their tasks.
Paul Aisa, who represented the Kairuku-Hiri MP, stressed that the project was an important one for the district; however, the issues relating to land matters must be sorted out to avoid problems in the future.
He added that only landowners who were prepared to release their land for the project should be involved in the negotiations between the government, investor and community.