Fiji vegetable farming shown to have real potential
Thursday, 06 December 2012 15:29

Australian horticultural researchers are helping Fijians to produce a regular source of high quality vegetables to boost supplies in the community as well as tourist and international markets.

 

Benefits to unfold from increased vegetable supplies could ultimately help improve food security and reduce poverty in the region.

Researchers from the Pacific Agribusiness Research for Development Initiative (PARDI) within the Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation at The University of Queensland (UQ), recently conducted a review into fresh vegetable supplies in Fiji.

The researchers highlighted that unreliable fresh vegetable supply chains, caused by seasonal oversupply, poor quality and shortages of some vegetables, are key issues in the area that can be overcome.

Headed by horticulture researchers working for PARDI, UQ’s Shane Dullahide and Elio Jovicich, from the Queensland Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, the review looked at current innovation in the region and identified major obstacles to production success.

Advice was sought from visiting Queensland vegetable growers Peter Harslett and Trevor Wren, along with input from local growers and a host of local government and industry groups.

According to Mr Dullahide, high rainfall and temperatures, lack of availability of high-performing crop genetics, limited capital and limited technical skills were found to be the main constraints to productivity, quality and continuity of supply.

“Large degrees of difference in systems and approaches used across the industry make it near impossible for supply chains to achieve reliability of supply,” he said.

“Dealing with these issues will be central to PARDI’s work in the region in 2013 and will provide important information for our collaborators.”

The PARDI review also highlighted that most vegetable growers in Fiji supply to a range of markets, varying from road stalls and local markets, to selling produce for processing, export or for purchase by tourist outlets. 

When it comes to sales, production and demand are not in proportion. Many markets are oversupplied with produce of limited quality, which keeps prices suppressed.

Ultimately, there are few businesses in Fiji that produce good quality crops that attract high prices over summer months.

Mr Dullahide said there were year-round shortfalls for capsicums (red in particular), large ripe tomatoes and leafy vegetable crops, and during the wetter months there was a considerable shortfall for all vegetable non-root crops.

“These shortfalls are actually real opportunities for locals who with the right guidance, can fill these voids and improve their livelihoods now and into the future,” he said.

PARDI is coordinated by The University of Queensland and funded by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR).

Contact for more information:

Shane Dullahide
M: 0438811285
Email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Julie Lloyd
PARDI Communications
M: 0415799890