BY IAN MATHEW
Balsa has taken the province of East New Britain by storm and those with hundreds or thousands of acres of land at their disposal would laugh to the bank.
According to an article published online by Market Research Future in February 2021, the balsa wood industry is expected to grow 5.50% through 2030.
The report also pointed out that the total market value is also expected to be around US$217.23 million by 2030, a dramatic increase from US$146.53 million in 2016.
Many residents of the province have already started converting their cocoa blocks and other available land for the cultivation of balsa, which is in high demand in the global market.
The wood that is used as interior trim in everyday objects like boats, wind turbines and various types of aircraft is used by many companies in different industries.
Blockholders residing in the Local Government of the Interior and Lassul Baining in Gazelle District and other LLGs and districts who have been farming balsa wood for the past four or five years would earn huge returns in the coming months during the harvest period.
With the current selling price of between 300 and 480 K per cubic meter, those who planted more than 3,000 to 6,000 balsa seedlings would receive huge returns exceeding those of labor of about 6 million K or more.
Long-time ENB resident Alvin Kuaro said balsa companies, mostly Asian, buy balsa wood from locals and export it to China.
He said that people in rural areas, realizing the enormous economic value of balsa, made a wise decision a few years ago and would soon reap the benefits sown.
He further added that families who do not have the financial means to send their children to school to get proper education in various secondary, vocational or tertiary institutions across the country are now able to do so.
“Various labor professionals have also quit or retired to go back to the basics of working the land to earn more in a year than their entire career,” he said.
Mr Kuaro said that from the South Coast north of Baining and other parts of the province, a person can encounter while traveling around the ENBP and see first hand people growing balsa on their blocks.