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actors,” says value chain expert Professor Randy
Stringer, also from the Global Food Studies unit at
the University of Adelaide. In a small country such
as Fiji, face-to-face exchange is both a feasible and
a highly effective way to do this.
“I don’t have to be looking elsewhere but at
my doorstep for the supply of the hotel,” said an
enlightened Nitesh Kumar, purchasing manager
for one of Fiji’s largest hotels, Shangri-la’s Fijian
Resort and Spa, at the close of the workshop. Just
over a year later, Shangri-la’s Fijian Resort and Spa
was the first hotel to reach an agreement with one
of the PGS groups and begin regular purchases of
local produce from the group.
The PGS platform has also facilitated training
for the farmers in market-oriented business
skills, helped develop quality protocols that form
the basis of agreements between farmer groups
and hotels, and is working to develop a local
brand to enhance marketing. After the PARDI
team withdraws, a Business Support Service self-
funded by the groups will ensure continuation
Practical interventions in the field are also
needed if the farmers are going to have enough
high-quality vegetables to supply the market
throughout the year. The third PARDI research
activity sought to address this aspect. The climate
is the main challenge—during the rainy season,
roughly November to April in Fiji, it is too wet to
produce crops such as tomatoes and capsicums.
The solution seems a simple one—greenhouses
that keep off the rain—and this is the intervention
introduced by PARDI. But adapting the design for
local conditions, developing appropriate irrigation,
managing insects and diseases, finding the right
seeds and building farmer knowledge of the
system means it has been far from simple.
Led by Dr Elio Jovicich from the Queensland
Department of Agriculture and Fisheries,
the project has installed five demonstration
greenhouses in Fiji and Samoa. “ We’ve adapted
the usual tunnel design, which is too low for
these conditions,” says Dr Jovicich. “Our structures
are much taller, and have improved ventilation,
to prevent temperatures getting too high in the
The greenhouses have drip irrigation and trellis
systems to maximise the space available. Trials
with tomato, capsicum, cucumber, coriander
(cilantro) and red cabbage have had good results.
“Growers have really seen the difference. They are
getting good quality and can see the year-round
potential,” Dr Jovicich says.
Trellising makes the most of the space available in one
of the demonstration greenhouses in Sigatoka, Fiji.
Husband and wife farming team Adi Vani and Moses
Naiove check their tomato crop. Adi and Moses are
both members in the PGS farmers’ group in Qereqere
village, near Sigatoka, Fiji.
Aloesi Hicks works on the PGS project with farmer
groups in Fiji. She recently received an ACIAR scholarship
to study for a higher degree in Australia.
Jone Kunatui from the Nawamagi PGS talks
with chef Ganeshan Naicker of Shangri-la’s
Fijian Resort and Spa.
Dr Elio Jovicich (centre) explains the ‘protected
cropping’ project to vegetable supplier Edwin
Tamasese (right) in Samoa.
Australian growers are also looking on
and taking interest, particularly in the tropical
region where protected cropping is not
common, and the Pacific work complements
research in Queensland.
The next phase of this work is a full-scale
ACIAR project to expand and develop protected
cropping, and to extend trials to the PGS farmer
groups. As the technical problems of protected
cropping are resolved, a key issue will be to help
farmers with the investment decisions surrounding
the purchase of greenhouses and of mitigating
the risk of cyclone damage. Once again, the need
is for a strategy that is resilient in the face of an
uncertain economic and natural environment. n
ACIAR PROJECTS: PRA/2012/02, Fiji retail market
PRA/2011/03, Developing an integrated participatory
guarantee scheme in the Pacific islands in support of
sustainable production of high-value vegetable crops
PRA/2012/05, Developing protected cropping systems
for production of high-value vegetables in the South
Pacific islands (Fiji and Samoa) and Australia
MORE INFORMATION: Dr Richard Markham,
horticulture research program manager, ACIAR,
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