Group diversifies

Permanent Secretary for Industry, Trade and Tourism, Shaheen Ali oepning the Farmers Fuel Station at Nabilo, Korovou Tailevu yesterday. Picture: JONA KONATACI

THE Northland Farmers’ Co-operative Ltd started in 2006 with 19 dairy farmers with an initial business of supplying milk to Fiji Co-operative Dairy Company Ltd.

Today the co-operative’s membership stands at 68 with a diversified business interests which include wholesaling and retailing animal feeds, molasses, and fertilisers, truck hiring business, seafood sales, hardware store and now a fuel service station.

Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism and permanent secretary responsible for the Department of Co-operative Business, Shaheen Ali said the newly opened service station in Northland Korovou would serve a community of 30,000 people, including public service vehicles.

“Hundreds of vehicles pass through Korovou Town on a daily basis and with its strategic location, the service station provides a convenient service to the motoring public in Korovou,” he said.

Mr Ali said the opening of the service station was a leading example of what co-operatives were capable of achieving when members were commercially driven and not limiting themselves to small and traditional enterprises with limited benefits.

He said Northland Farmers’ Co-operative Ltd’s diversification projects had significantly increased its earnings from $17,584 in 2014-2015 to $1.132 million in the 2018–2019 financial year.

“The asset base grew from $63,474 in 2015 to $292,633 in 2019 which further strengthened the co-operatives’ financial position.”

Mr Ali said he was advised that the co-operative was planning to export local produce and handicrafts and assured the members of the full support of the ministry in these types of initiatives.

Northland Farmers’ Co-operative Ltd chairman Hirday Lakhan said they had plans to build some permanent value addition and farm produce consolidation sites.

“Projects such as value adding to local fish, to rourou (making saina rolls out of rourou leaves), making some handmade ghee, pure milk tea and ice blocks, seaweed and cow dung manure and seedlings nursery are in our minds to name a few,” he said.

Mr Lakhan said the co-operative welcomed the Pacific Energy SPW Ltd – their new fuel supplier to Northland Tailevu.

“The fuel station will run from the temporary setup now and we envisage the Pacific Energy and landlords the Northland Plaza Ltd to eventually build a permanent state of the art fuel station for Northland Korovou,” Mr Lakhan said.

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