Agricultural challenge to increase non-sugar exports by $100m
15 June, 2018, 7:00 pm
WHILE earnings from Fiji’s annual kava exports had bounced back over the past few years, the challenge for the agriculture sector was to increase non-sugar exports by $100million and reduce imports of fruits and vegetables by $80m by the year 2020.
This was highlighted by the Ministry of Agriculture’s deputy Permanent Secretary and Chief Economist Vatimi Rayalu during a Fiji Kava Chain Analysis workshop in Suva this week.
The workshop was attended by more than 70 stakeholders of the kava industry, including growers, traders, and exporters at the Southern Cross Hotel in Suva.
Opening the event on Tuesday, Mr Rayalu acknowledged and thanked kava growers for continuing to keep the sector “alive”.
“You are the primary source of materials necessary to keep the industry alive. Thank you for keeping this sector alive. The commitment you make to growing kava has resulted in the successful exports of your produce and the jobs created in the sector for economic development,” he said.
“This workshop provides a platform for dialogue and a better understanding of issues relating to agriculture trade, production and exports and in finding ways to address market access issues.”
Mr Rayalu also urged ministry officials to listen to farmers and make the effort to acquire first-hand knowledge from them, saying this was an issue highlighted in a report of the World Bank reform of the Ministry of Agriculture.
“I know there are officials here and I think that message is for you, to listen to the farmers because they are the ones dirtying their hands so it’s advisable and good to listen to those that are doing it and get first-hand knowledge of their experience. It will be good for us in the long run.”
Workshop sessions involved discussions about best practice for planting, growing and harvesting kava; and current and future opportunities for trading in domestic and international markets. the findings of the analysis were also presented to the growers on day two.
Field trips were also organised with participants visiting Agro Marketing Authority, Biotech Fiji Limited at Wainibuku to learn about the production of high-quality kava in tissue culture form in a laboratory, Lami Kava, Sai Yee Foods and the Institute of Applied Sciences at the University of the South Pacific for a range of tests on kava quality and chemical composition.
The Kava Value Chain Analysis report will be launched this evening.