Facilitating Agricultural Commodity Trade

The European Union-funded Facilitating Agricultural Commodity Trade (FACT) pilot project aims to support commercial ventures and producer groups in becoming export-oriented, market-driven enterprises that will consistently supply overseas markets with competitive agricultural and forestry products. The project is implemented by the Land Resources Division of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) in Suva, Fiji and started in May 2008.

FACT Project helps evaluate new banana variety for export
Wednesday, 22 August 2012 13:34

SPC’s European Union-funded Facilitating Agricultural Commodity Trade (FACT) project is working with banana farmers in Fiji to evaluate a new variety for export.

The Blue Java banana, known locally as paka or vata, grows wild on Fiji’s coastal areas and can occasionally be found at farmers’ markets.

Now, moves are under way to develop this variety commercially, primarily for use in processed fruit pulp for export markets.

Sigatoka-based Agrana Fruit Fiji Ltd exports organic fruit pieces and pulp made from locally grown guavas, mangoes and bananas to Australia, Europe, New Zealand and South Korea.

For its banana pulp, the company uses the Cavendish banana, which requires the use of ascorbic acid (a costly import) to prevent oxidisation and so act as a preservative.

The Blue Java, on the other hand, does not require preservatives because of its already high acid content. It also yields more pulp than the Cavendish, due to its thinner peel.

But in order for Agrana to make this cost saving, it must first confirm the variety’s suitability for its aseptic fruit puree market before establishing a regular supply of the Blue Java variety from banana farmers.

This is where the FACT project is helping in a number of ways.

Firstly, it is helping source some five tonnes of Blue Java bananas from areas where it is naturally occurring for a processing trial at Agrana.

Secondly, in collaboration with the Fijian Ministry of Primary Industries, the project will be encouraging banana farmers in the Sigatoka area to plant Blue Java on a commercial basis.

‘We could potentially export a container a month to start with, which would mean 33 tonnes of raw materials,’ says George Fung, Agrana’s general manager.

He is hoping there is a market for Blue Java pulp in Europe where Agrana’s clients have shown an interest in importing a natural product (free of preservatives), which doesn’t discolour.

FACT Project team leader Dr Lex Thomson believes it may be a timely move to develop the new variety.

‘Banana pathology experts reckon it is only a  matter of  time before Cavendish type  varieties, which lack genetic diversity, are affected or possibly devastated by a fungal disease,’ he says.

Blue Java is also resistant to Black Sigatoka, a leaf spot disease caused by a fungus, whereas Cavendish is very susceptible and as a result most commercial plantations throughout the world are sprayed with fungicide.

Dr Thomson adds that the Blue Java is highly underrated as a dessert fruit. ‘This banana, when fully ripe, can be pureed in a blender and turned into a delicious, nutritious and fully natural dessert — akin to banana-flavoured ice cream.’

The project’s assistance will also result in Blue Java and other banana varieties being more readily available at local markets.

Now in its final year, the FACT project has been working to increase agriculture and forestry exports from 14 Pacific members of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States.

It is implemented by the Land Resources Division of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community.

For more information, contact This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it Writer/Sub-editor on +679 3370733 or the This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Caption: The FACT Project's Agriculture Forestry Production Technician Mr Osea Rasea (right) speaks to a banana farmer in Fiji about growing the Blue Java variety (pictured) for export.


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SPC media release

EU Project helps evaluate new banana variety for export

Tuesday 21 August 2012, Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), Suva

SPC’s European Union-funded Facilitating Agricultural Commodity Trade (FACT) project is working with banana farmers in Fiji to evaluate a new variety for export.

The Blue Java banana, known locally as paka or vata, grows wild on Fiji’s coastal areas and can occasionally be found at farmers’ markets.

Now, moves are under way to develop this variety commercially, primarily for use in processed fruit pulp for export markets.

Sigatoka-based Agrana Fruit Fiji Ltd exports organic fruit pieces and pulp made from locally grown guavas, mangoes and bananas to Australia, Europe, New Zealand and South Korea.

For its banana pulp, the company uses the Cavendish banana, which requires the use of ascorbic acid (a costly import) to prevent oxidisation and so act as a preservative.

The Blue Java, on the other hand, does not require preservatives because of its already high acid content. It also yields more pulp than the Cavendish, due to its thinner peel.

But in order for Agrana to make this cost saving, it must first confirm the variety’s suitability for its aseptic fruit puree market before establishing a regular supply of the Blue Java variety from banana farmers.

This is where the FACT project is helping in a number of ways.

Firstly, it is helping source some five tonnes of Blue Java bananas from areas where it is naturally occurring for a processing trial at Agrana.

Secondly, in collaboration with the Fijian Ministry of Primary Industries, the project will be encouraging banana farmers in the Sigatoka area to plant Blue Java on a commercial basis.

‘We could potentially export a container a month to start with, which would mean 33 tonnes of raw materials,’ says George Fung, Agrana’s general manager.

He is hoping there is a market for Blue Java pulp in Europe where Agrana’s clients have shown an interest in importing a natural product (free of preservatives), which doesn’t discolour.

FACT Project team leader Dr Lex Thomson believes it may be a timely move to develop the new variety.

‘Banana pathology experts reckon it is only a  matter of  time before Cavendish type varieties, which lack genetic diversity, are affected or possibly devastated by a fungal disease,’ he says.

Dr Thomson adds that the Blue Java is highly underrated as a dessert fruit. ‘This banana, when fully ripe, can be pureed in a blender and turned into a delicious, nutritious and fully natural dessert — akin to banana-flavoured ice cream.’

The project’s assistance will also result in Blue Java and other banana varieties being more readily available at local markets.

Now in its final year, the FACT project has been working to increase agriculture and forestry exports from the 14 Pacific members of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States.

It is implemented by the Land Resources Division of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community.

ENDS

For more information, contact Rajan Sami (Tel.: 3370733; email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ) or visit the SPC website: www.spc.int/lrd.

 


The European Union-funded Facilitating Agricultural Commodity Trade (FACT) project is implemented by the Land Resources Division of SPC.