Transforming Family Farming Through Soil Health, Seeds Saving, Analyzing Value Chain and Local Vegetable, Spice and Crop Production
The future for agriculture is bright, says PIFON board director and Human Resources Co-ordinator, Serenia Madigibuli
On Thursday 30 July, Tutu Rural Training Centre (TRTC) hosted its very first Farmers Forum: Transforming Family Farming Through Soil Health, Seeds Saving, Analyzing Value Chain and Local Vegetable, Spice and Crop Production.
PIFON board director and Human Resources Co-ordinator of TRTC, Serenia Madigibuli said the future for agriculture is bright.
“It is a great joy to witness TRTC take another step forward in making agriculture attractive, inspiring and sustainable in the training of young men, woman and married couples.”
“Today we’re looking forward to learning new and innovative ways of using the soil and looking after it, making good use of vegetables and fruits in value-adding processes, while also analyzing the value chain.”
“Our mission here at Tutu is the care of the soil and our environment, and today’s forum is close to our hearts with contributions from experts who have generously worked their time to be with us today.”
The 1 Day Programme saw key presentations from Sant Kumar (Seedling in Vegetable and Crop Production), Rev Dr Donato Kivi sm (Soil Health: Vanua and Ecological Conversions), Dr. Rohit Lal (Seed Saving), Dr. Kandianan (Spices & Alternative Crop Development) and Kaitu Eresito (Value Chain).
Horticulture expert and founder of Bula Agro said vegetable farming is vital to food security and employment.
“We have a long and proud farming history, of the 196 countries in the world, the Fiji flag has the most references to farming than any other country.”
“The food that we eat should contain a wide range of fruits and vegetables for our health while also being equipped to fight diseases like diabetes and heart disease.”
He said: “I have a vision that Fiji’s fresh produce industry will continue to grow as a major contributor to the income of our farmers and to the nation of Fiji.”
“In order to realize this vision, we need to support our private nursery so that they can be better businesses and more adaptable to various natural disasters.”
Sant Kumar also shared technical knowledge on soil and seedling preparation with students of Tutu Rural Training Centre.
Forum facilitator and principal director of TRTC, Father Petero Matairatu said the rules of economy apply to farming as much as they do to any other business.
In his welcoming remarks, Father Petero Matairatu said while farming is a risky business dependent on domestic prices and changes in foreign markets, the appreciation of the business concept and its principles is critical to its success.
“The theme of today’s forum, ‘Transforming Family Farming through soil health, seed saving, analyzing value chain and local vegetable, spice and crop production’ has been chosen to help farmers transform their lives from being a subsistence affluence into farming as a business or as a family business.”
“Planning as a family or as an individual, and harnessing the business talents of each family member or individual can drive the development of farming businesses forward.”
With an endless potential for the global kava market, Father Petero Matairatu is encouraging farmers to consider investing in the market.
“The recent yaqona price boom in 2017 and 2018 opens the doors for farmers to deliberately engage in activities that help them generate income, more so in these changing economic circumstances.”
In his presentation, Dr. Kandiannan, the ITEC expert (Spices Production and Processing) at Nadi’s Vivekananda Technical Center saidthereisa strong domestic market for spices in Fiji.
“Fiji exports on an average 2730.5 tonnes of spices to the value of FJD$16.6m, while importing 1305.7 tonnes to the value of FJD$5.8m”
“The imported spices are consumed internally both in households and hotels, part of it is converted into spice mixtures or value added and re-exported.”
Dr. Kandiannan urged students to invest and develop spices as an alternative crop.
“Spices has many benefits and used primarily for flavoring, deodorizing, pungency and coloring.”
Many spices including black pepper, vanilla, ginger, cardamom, nutmeg and clove he said was introduced to Fiji between the 1880s -1930s. He added few species of nutmeg and cinnamon are indigenous to Fiji.
A total of 98 participants attended the Tutu Rural Training Centre’s Farmers Forum that was funded through the Farmers’ Organizations for Africa, Caribbean and Pacific- (FO4ACP) Programme; a joint partnership between the European Union, Africa Caribbean and Pacific Region (ACP), International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), and Pacific Island Farmers Organisation Network (PIFON).