FIJI'S request to export fresh ginger to Australia has been granted following the release of the final import risk analysis report by the Australian Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry this week.
Biosecurity Authority of Fiji (BAF) acting chief executive officer Waisiki Gonemaituba said Fiji exported about $6million worth of processed or baby ginger annually.
He said this additional market for fresh ginger would further boost export earnings, providing a significant trade benefit for our local economy.
"This new market for fresh ginger in Australia will not only bring substantial benefits for large numbers of farming communities and their families but will also boost Fiji's ginger exports and bring more foreign exchange into the country," he said.
The approval would allow Fiji to export fresh ginger to Australia for the first time since the initial request for access was made in 2003.
Describing new market access for fresh ginger as a significant win for Fiji, he acknowledged the technical assistance of the AusAID-funded PHAMA (Pacific Horticultural and Agricultural Market Access) program.
Mr Gonemaituba said without the assistance, uncertainty would remain on its approval process.
The next step for BAF, the Department of Agriculture and stakeholders from the local ginger industry was to develop the operational protocol for exporting fresh ginger from Fiji. He said the opportunity to export ginger to Australia would give added confidence and incentive for farmers to grow the crop.
"We are already working on this. The PHAMA program has developed a draft handbook with planned farmer and exporter in-field training programs that will help meet conditions set by the Australian authorities.
"Fiji's ginger was of high quality with a unique flavour and low in plant fibre. We are confident that it will gain wide acceptance in the Australian market."
He said the final IRA report for Fiji ginger identified the yam scale insects (Aspidiella hartii) and burrowing nematode (Radopholus similis) as quarantine pests of concern to Australia.
The report recommended a combination of management measures including the registration of farmers and exports, growing crops with in-field management controls, and fumigating, inspecting and certifying consignments by BAF.