Solar kiln to improve SI sawn timber export quality

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Wednesday, October 26 2016

In its efforts to encourage additional downstream processing and value adding of timber in the Solomon Islands, the Pacific Horticultural and Agricultural Market Access (PHAMA) Program has funded the purchase of a solar kiln to dry timber for export.

Solomon Islands exports around SBD78.5 million (AUD $13 million) worth of sawn timber annually, of which 60% (AUD $8 million) goes to Australia and New Zealand. With the majority of exported timber being undried and rough sawn, variability in the quality of Solomon Islands timber has been an issue for importers in Australia and New Zealand, who pay lower prices as a result.

The kiln has been placed at VATA Enterprises in Henderson, and will be available for use by other exporters who are members of the Solomon Islands Timber Processors and Exporters Association (SITPEA). It will act as a demonstration site, showing timber exporters how the kiln operates and helping them understand the potential benefits of additional value adding through timber drying. Pacific Export Alliance Group has provided the first batch of timber that will be dried in the kiln, and then exported to Australia.

In opening the kiln, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Forestry and Research, Mr Vaeno Vigulu, noted, “It is Solomon Islands Government policy to encourage additional downstream processing in Solomon Islands. This kiln is a significant positive step for the local timber industry.”

PHAMA has also organised a timber drying and quality training delivered by Dr Graeme Palmer from the Southern Cross University in Australia. Dr. Palmer has been helping exporters to understand timber drying processes, as well as demonstrating kiln operation and cost-effective, self-build kiln designs.

Funded by the Australian and New Zealand Governments, the PHAMA program has been instrumental in maintaining market access for Solomon Islands sawn timber exports to Australia and New Zealand. Amongst its initiatives, PHAMA has worked with the Solomon Islands industry and government to jointly develop a Solomon Island timber legality assurance guideline. It has supported a market survey and trade mission visits to Australia and NZ. And it has established linkages and promoted co-operation between the Australian, New Zealand and Solomon Islands industries to facilitate improvements in timber quality.

Adam Bartlett, President of SITPEA, thanked PHAMA for its support of the industry saying, “The kiln drier is a great initiative. Timber drying will help improve the value of exports, and also assist with the development of local wood processing and manufacturing capacity in the country.”

PHAMA is now working with SITPEA and the Solomon Islands Ministry of Forestry and Research to establish a third party legality verification system to a recognised international legality standard.

For further information, please contact Andrew Piper at a.piper@phama.com.au or on +677 7495319

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