TWENTY papaya farmers in the Sabeto Valley are expecting rich rewards from their efforts to plant and export organically certified papaya for the New Zealand market.
The 20-member Sabeto Organic Papaya Association project is funded by the International Fund for Agricultural Development, which is implemented by the Pacific Organic and Ethical Trade Community (POETCom) and the Secretariat of the Pacific Community.
According to SPC, the aim of the project was to enhance the access of Pacific smallholders to high-value markets by obtaining appropriate and recognised organic certification and support.
The project facilitates the development of organic participatory guarantee systems (PGS) to provide a credible organic guarantee to consumers seeking organic produce through the direct participation of farmers and consumers in the organic guarantee process, and is based on recognised standards for organic production.
Association member Tokasa Vadrasola said the group had to follow the rules laid out by PGS and organic standards.
"We have to make sure the plantation is clean of rubbish and plastics and do other things to make sure we have a good quality crop like pruning and applying compost and organic fertilisers," she said.
"We have also learned to bag flowers to collect seeds because seed saving is an important part of organic farming."
Ms Vadrasola has one acre of organic papaya where about 130 trees are planted.
Of the 20 farmers in the association, seven are women.