Work to revitalize and recapitalize the Commodities Export Marketing Authority (CEMA) is progressing regardless of the challenges triggered by covid-19.
The Government has set a seven-year strategy from 2021-2027 to restart the once thriving coconut and cocoa industry with the aim to restore export and to add value to these two main commodities.
The strategy also envisages the inclusion of other commodities such as kava, coffee, forest products and fisheries products such as seaweed in the long run.
Implementation of phase 1 of the strategy began in 2021 with a ground-breaking ceremony marking the establishment of a new buying center in Noro and the purchase of land to construct a coconut refinery there. The concept and master plan for the Noro refinery has also been completed.
Further progress was slightly delayed by the covid-19 community transmission in the first quarter of 2022, which, halted the opening of buying centers at Pakera in Makira, Buala in Isabel, Tarakukure in Choiseul and Malu’u in Malaita Provinces. These are, however, rescheduled to open between April and June this year.
Repair costs assessment for these four provincial buying centers are now completed and CEMA is engaging contractors to carry out repairs and maintenance on these buying centers. These Centers should be up and running by April to July this year.
A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) has been signed between CEMA and Pakera Enterprises Limited for a five years lease for a buying center to be hosted at Pakera, Makira Ulawa Province.
Pakera contractors are already engaged through a signed contract to start the refurbishment and establishment of the Pakera buying center has started in December 2021.
Similar preparations have also been made to buying centers in Isabel and Choiseul Provinces where MOUs are prepared to be signed with Isabel Province for the Buala and Gojoruru sites and Choiseul Province for the Tarakukure site.
Site visits and assessments to Manekalaku buying center in Guadalcanal Province and Tingoa in Rennel Bellona is yet to be completed in the second quarter of this year, and costs of repair work to these buying centers will be factored into the 2022 Development Budget.
The CEMA Cabinet Sub- Committee has also completed consultations and presentations with the CEMA board and management to amend the CEMA Act of 1984 and the cocoa and coconut regulations. An amendment to the Act will see the inclusion of add products in schedule 1 of the Act.
Furthermore, repair works and maintenance on all former CEMA warehouses in Honiara and the provincial buying centers are ongoing. Upgrade to the cocoa and coconut laboratory for quality assurances is also in the pipeline for this year.
Under the revitalization and capitalization strategy, CEMA is boosted with an investment of $77 million from the National Government and the strategy will be implemented over a seven-year period in three phases.
The CEMA Cabinet Sub- committee is tasked to oversee the rollout of the strategy and assessment to the strategy is done on monthly and quarterly basis.
CEMA is charged with the export of cocoa and copra as the major commodities of the local economy. It is also responsible for the overall management and coordination of the production of the commodities.
The Democratic Coalition Government for Advancement (DCGA) acknowledged that cocoa and copra has been the cornerstone of our economy, and the revitalization of CEMA is one of the main policy priorities of DCGA.