In a milestone achievement a local company has stamped its mark in a much more lucrative market in Australia selling locally grown vegetables and fruits.
This means more people get to know and use Fiji's produce overseas and in the process, increase business opportunity for 200 local farmers and their families.
What started from humble beginnings, Fiji's Bula Island Food Supplies Limited (BIFS) has opened their new complex to cater for their booming business.
The company was established in 1986 by Narain Sammy Naidu at the age of 26, a budding entrepreneur whose dream has today come to fruition.
Speaking on behalf of the company, DHL's country manager, Mahendra Singh addressed guests and stakeholders at the opening of the new processing and storage complex.
Mr Singh said BIFS was established in 1986 by Mr Naidu who did not aspire for any academic qualification or degree but always had the yearning to be a successful businessman and when the opportunity presented itself he quickly grabbed it.
With the assistance of the family, he said Mr Naidu started a small distribution centre in Australia and realised the huge potential. He returned to meet with the many farmers, and forged a relationship that has matured with time and many of them are now his regular suppliers.
BIFS Foods currently exports over 30 different products to Australia. The main items being taro, taro leaves and cassava leaves. In addition to these they also supply: frozen cassava, breadfruit, jackfruit, okra, frozen fish, Fijian brooms and many other vegetables including dry coconuts and PAAN leaves used mainly by the Indian community in their prayer ceremonies
"For the year 2011 the company exported a total of 418,255 kilograms of produce by airfreight alone," he said. "I am pleased to add that all of this was exported with our national carrier Fiji Airways with freight payments of approximately of half a million dollars".
"2012 July YTD the company has already airfreighted in excess of 205,000 thousand kilos and is well on track to exceed last year's volumes despite the many challenges brought about by the adverse weather conditions in the early part of the year."
Mr Singh says the company's success is because of the many farmers from all over Fiji who work tirelessly to have the produce available to BIFS on time, each week.
The company, he said was proud to support over 200 farmers throughout Fiji and as far as Taveuni, Naitasiri, Sigatoka and Rakiraki, Nadi, Lautoka and Ba. Other farms include settlements in Bukuya, Bunamoli and remote areas of Fiji.
"In 2011 the company paid out $850,000 in payments for their produce and over the many years of operation BIFS has contributed considerably to the farming community in Fiji," he said.