Farming as a business and the role of farmer associations in the Pacific
Friday, 30 July 2010 10:32

What role should farmer associations play in assisting their members to increase their earnings through improved marketing, certification and support? And how can we ensure that the work of farmers associations can be sustained? To answer these questions, SPC LRD, the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) and Nature’s Way Co-operative combined to work with, and hear from, farmer groups from across the Pacific region.

Held in Nadi, Fiji 3rd – 7th May 2010, the training, funded under the EU All Africa Caribbean and Pacific Agricultural Commodities Program (AAACP) also recognised the role of new information and communication technologies in accessing and disseminating market information.

The training, organised by FAO and Nature’s Way Cooperative of Fiji, focussed on the role of farmer organisations and networks in linking small farmers to markets. In addition, the training provided Pacific farmer organisations with a better understanding on marketing as well as learning management skills in operating in a business environment.

Participants included representatives from the Melanesian Farmers First network, Kastom Gardens from Solomon Islands, Samoa’s Women in Business, Samoan Farmers Association, the Farm Support Association of Vanuatu, the Vanuatu Organic Cocoa Growers Alliance, Nature’s Way Co-operative of Fiji, Tutu of Fiji, South Sea Orchids of Fiji, Tongan Growers Federation, and the Rarotonga Nita Growers association from the Cook Islands. Representatives from the Niue Department of Agriculture and the PNG Highlands Group, as well as Fiji FRIEND and the Fiji ACIAR Papaya Project also participated.

SPC provided information on the topics farming as a business and the costs of maintaining organic certification, the costs and benefits of Fair Trade certification, and some of the new types of fair trade certifications emerging, understanding and implementing Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) principles in agricultural processing, and the emergence of new technologies and opportunities for the implementation