|SPC partners with industry and government for success in agriculture|
|Thursday, 01 April 2010 10:42|
Tuesday 16th March 2010, Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), Suva, Fiji Islands -Through its Land Resources Division, the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) will continue to support the initiatives of farmers, entrepreneurs and the governments of Pacific Island countries and territories to add value to agriculture and forestry products.
These comments were made by the Director of SPC’s Land Resource Division Mr Aleki Sisifa while delivering his keynote address at the official opening of Kaiming Agro Processing Limited’s factory in Navua, Fiji Islands.
‘It is a pleasure to be part of this great initiative whereby we were able to work together with a private entrepreneur and with the Fiji Government to achieve this milestone in terms of improved processing and marketing of root crops and ginger.’In addition to congratulating Mr Calvin Qiu, the general manager of Kaiming Agro Processing Limited , Mr Sisifa also said that this development had resulted from the support of the Fiji Government and the timely and targeted assistance of SPC through its European Union-funded FACT (Facilitating Agricultural Commodity Trade) pilot project.
‘SPC has been around for 63 years and in the area of agriculture, our focus has until recently been on strengthening the supply side.
‘However,’ he added, ‘in recent times, SPC’s Land Resources Division broadened its focus to include facilitating trade in agricultural and forestry products.
‘In terms of animal and plant health, we not only help strengthen countries’ quarantine services so they prevent entry of harmful pests and diseases, we also assist them in improving compliance with the quarantine requirements of importing countries.’
Mr Sisifa further stated that one of the division’s goal is to help countries and territories get market access for commodities they can produce.
‘Our support for this new facility is in line with this overall goal for our division, and we are most grateful to the EU for giving us the opportunity to do so through the FACT project, which we have been implementing since May 2008.
‘The overall objective of the project is to promote trade in agricultural and forestry products from Pacific ACP countries.
‘FACT also promotes sustainable increases in quality and range of exports of agriculture and forestry products within and outside of the Pacific region,’ he said.
FACT complements efforts aimed at enhancing regional cooperation and integration. This includes the policy commitment of EU under the Cotonou Agreement to facilitate the integration of Pacific ACP (African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States) into the regional and global economies.
Mr Sisifa explained that in assessing the kind of support and assistance needed, FACT undertook supply chain analyses in close consultation with its entrepreneur/private sector partners, looking at production at the farm level, post-harvesting, processing, packaging, marketing and presentation at the point of sale to identify weak links and designing the appropriate means to improve the situation.
‘Bearing in mind that working directly with private sector enterprises was new to SPC’s Land Resources Division, FACT had to implement a short-term strategy such that we initially had to focus activities on experienced producers and exporters in the agriculture and forestry sectors in order to gain rapid results and some early successes.’
FACT is currently directly supporting 18 enterprises in seven Pacific ACP countries, with four partner enterprises located in Fiji.
Based on commercial and other criteria, Kaiming Agro Processing Ltd. was selected by an independent technical advisory group as it fitted well with the project’s criteria.
In addition to the various forms of technical assistance provided, FACT has also contributed through a helping to equipthe facility with a monetary value approaching FJD 100,000.
These include laboratory equipment, a continuous band sealer, a ginger washer, water pumps, scales and pool liners.
With EU-FACT support, this new facility has been designed to meet internationally recognised good manufacturing practices, with plans for the facility to be HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points) certified before the end of this year.
With its increased capacity, imminent HACCP certification and excellent working environment, Kaiming will be able to further increase its exports and tap into new markets it has not been able to access before.
‘A lot of lessons have been learnt and experiences gained, and these will be used to provide support to other enterprises/producers not only here in Fiji but in the other Pacific Island countries and territories,’ said Mr Sisifa.
‘SPC’s Land Resources Division is mindful of issues such as climate change and environmental degradation; therefore, we have integrated sustainable farming approaches by incorporating organic, agroforestry and other environmental friendly farming methods into the mix.’
The FACT project has also supported a roots crops processing facility with Balthan Western Limited in Labasa. The recent opening of that processing site has brought smiles to the faces of a number of farmers as they have now secured a good market for their root crops.
These two initiatives will help reduce poverty by providing employment and markets for the farmers and rural communities of Navua, Labasa and other areas of Fiji.