As we harvest our non-renewable resources at rates that outpace our population growth rate we are forced to seriously consider options that will keep our country floating. Loggers have pillaged our remaining logs leaving us with contaminated unfertile soils, coral reefs that are dying because of the deposits from logging run offs, rivers that no longer hold the same color with few living creatures in it.
Promises by loggers and investors for a brighter future through sustainable replanting program to replant, replacing trees that have been there for thousands of years, promises of roads, schools, clinics, overnight millionaires etc have given ordinary resource owners are false hope of security. The hope that only the next generation will be able to experience and retrospectively conclude that our leaders, our fore fathers did have a great vision for our destiny.
I believe we are now reaching the periphery of that cross road where we are now looking back and see that the logs will no longer be there. Yet we still do not have roads in almost all the islands, no easy access to clinics, resource owners are still living under thatched roofed homes or if they do have copper homes maybe rusted already, there is only bare land with no new trees planted except to have nature take care of it.
Our plight does not end here. To diversify our economic base we begin to sale other things like owls, dolphins, butterflies, snakes etc often drawing intense international condemnation from conservationists and environmentalists. This is to make ends meet, schools fees, rice on the table, to buy gasoline for a ride to the clinic which is often a ride across rough seas. Basically to survive!
The government too has realized that soon we will be loosing one of our biggest revenue earner, logging. They finally identified three areas that will help fill the gap left by selling logs. These are the three areas identified Tourism, Agriculture and Fisheries. These industries also take years to generate income and sustain the revenue equal to logging. They require support infrastructures to even start off. For example, take this gibberish over simplified eco-tourism. Although, it sounds so simple, there is more to it than a thatched roof bungalow on the beachfront.
We need to improve our transportation infrastructures by air, land & sea. The support facilities that will make visiting enjoyable for a tourist and not get stranded for weeks because no planes or having to use toilets that are max full in the airport that have not been cleaned for decades. Fisheries on the other hand should be diversified from harvesting instead to intense farming of sea products etc.
Finally, where was the vision 30 years ago when all these industries could be flourishing by now? Why are they now finally recognized as possible revenue sources?
Government Identifies Three Key Sectors to Take Over From Logging
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this letter are those of Ishmael Togamae and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Solomon Times Online.
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