Increasing Agricultural Commodity Trade (IACT)

The main goal of the European Union-funded Increasing Agricultural Commodity Trade (IACT) project is to strengthen the export capacity of Pacific member countries in the primary industries of agriculture, forestry, aquaculture and livestock. The project employs a whole-of-supply chain approach, assisting commercial ventures and producer groups to become export-oriented, market-driven enterprises that will consistently supply overseas markets with competitive agriculture, forestry and aquaculture products. The project is implemented by the Land Resources Division of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) in Suva, Fiji and started in June 2011.

Origins Pacific – creating jobs, creating opportunities for the community

Tuesday, 27 November 2012 12:23

Origins Pacific Limited (OPL), a local enterprise in the business of producing virgin coconut oil (VCO), is creating employment opportunities in Vuna on the southern tip of Taveuni, the Garden Island of Fiji.

Once renowned for its thriving copra industry in the 80’s and 90’s, this area of Taveuni is seeing the resurgence of coconut production as the lucrative VCO industry takes a foothold and farmers once again go back to manage their coconut plantations. Ratu Seru Buliruarua OPLs Taveuni based mill manager reminisce of the days of the copra boom pointing out the township where once a cinema and restaurants enjoyed brisk business, and now reclaimed by bush re-growth.

Entrepreneur and OPL Managing Director, Peni Drodrolagi who grew up in Vuna has spent the last several years finding innovative ways to revive the coconut industry, settling for the VCO industry. OPL was thus established 6 years ago producing VCO using a simple technology known as direct micro expelling. OPL’s product is for sale locally and exported overseas as far away as Slovenia in Europe. VCO is a higher value oil than copra oil and is rapidly becoming recognized as a very healthy oil for cooking and for use as a tonic as reportedly it builds the immune system.

Facing the usual challenges of a small business starting up, and with aspirations to move from the local market to exporting OPL turned to the European Union funded, “Facilitating Agricultural Commodities Trade” project for technical assistance and the support required to step up to serving export markets. FACT is ending this year, and OPL is now working with follow on project Increasing Agricultural Commodities Trade (IACT) project to further improve business and marketing opportunities by organically certifying their VCO production. OPL is also being assisted to enter a joint venture with a Kiribati company to produce a new product - sugar from coconut sap.

Peni Drodrolagi at the Fine Food Show in Australia this year

OPL Managing Director, Peni Drodrolagi [center] at the Fine Foodshow in Australia this year

Mr Drodrolagi is appreciative of the support provided and is most happy to be able to use this support to put back into village development through the production and supply chain - from stimulating trade in the village through putting cash in the hands of community members, to taking Fijis VCO to the world. “ The principles of ethical trade and sound rural development – combining job creation and agricultural opportunities at the village level -are prime values of our company” he says. “We wanted to do this on a commercially successful basis to ensure sustainability and ongoing opportunities for the people of Vuna and eventually other areas as well. We are hoping with the organic certification to be able to offer premium prices to our coconut suppliers and broaden our markets”.

The OPL Production Supervisor Leba Vosaicake supervises 7 staff- 5 women and 2 men - all of whom help support their families through working for OPL. Previously several of the women worked at the closest tourist resort to the village about an hours walk away, “with OPL in our own village it takes us 2 minutes to walk to work and we can still keep an eye on our family activities during the day. My pay is better and I’m very happy not to spend 2 hours each day walking to and from work” Leba says.

While the southern end of Taveuni might not have a cinema again just yet, there is no doubt that OPLs factory is stimulating the local economy and providing opportunities for local people.

For more information, please contact: Karen Mapusua on (679) 3370733 and or the LRD Helpdesk: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

 

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