A blog maintained by Tevita Kete, PGR Officer
Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), Suva, Fiji Islands
This weblog documents the activities of Pacific Agricultural Genetic Resources Network (PAPGREN), along with other information on plant genetic resources (PGR) in the Pacific.
The myriad varieties found within cultivated plants are fundamental to the present and future productivity of agriculture. PAPGREN, which is coordinated by the Land Resources Division of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), helps Pacific countries and territories to conserve their crop genetic diversity sustainably, with technical assistance from the Bioversity International (BI) and support from NZAID and ACIAR.
SPC also hosts the Centre of Pacific Crops and Trees (CEPaCT). The CEPaCT maintains regional in vitro collections of crops important to the Pacific and carries out research on tissue culture technology. The CEPaCT Adviser is Dr Mary Taylor (MaryT@spc.int), the CEPaCT Curator is Ms Valerie Tuia (ValerieT@spc.int).
PAPGREN coordination and support
Mr William Wigmore
Mr Adelino S. Lorens
Dr Lois Englberger
Mr Apisai Ucuboi
Dr Maurice Wong
Mr Tianeti Beenna Ioane
Mr Frederick Muller
Mr Herman Francisco
Ms Rosa Kambuou
Ms Laisene Samuelu
Mr Jimi Saelea
Mr Tony Jansen
Mr Finao Pole
Mr Frazer Bule Lehi
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Thursday, November 17, 2005
Posted 8:50 PM by Luigi
Vegetables in Fiji
Clan adds to salad bowl
By Timothy Naivaluwaqa, Fiji Times (Friday, November 18, 2005)
THERE is a vegetable garden three kilometres from Sigatoka Town that catches the breath and eye. It is a neat piece of handiwork and skills by members of a clan who learnt the art of gardening or planting from Taiwan experts.
Not only that, they fuelled it with their commitment and dedication.
"It was hard work but we were determined to succeed. We worked until we had prepared the garden the way we were taught."
That is what Serupepeli Nawaqe, turaga ni mataqali Naboka Juanahali of Nayawa in Sigatoka told me when I asked how they transformed a sugarcane field into a beautiful vegetable garden.
I marvelled at the way they switched to vegetable farming.
To start, they had only four digging spades and what they had learnt at a two-week course in July. The 12 men returned from the workshop and started planting cucumber, tomatoes, coriander, Chinese cabbage, lettuce, spring onions and capsicum just the way the Taiwanese said. Five months after they broke soil, their vegetable garden has grown to be a model project for the Taiwan technical mission based at Nacocolevu agricultural research station in the Sigatoka Valley.
The men learnt from the Taiwan experts at Nacocolevu and the results speak for themselves. The Taiwan experts were so impressed by what the clan members achieved that it gave them samples of a hybrid tomato, called Number Two, which grew and produced in the farm.
What makes this story amazing is that none of the men had been vegetable farmers.
The 50-year-old said when they were given the chance to learn with the help of the Ministry of Agriculture, they took the challenge as an initiative to generate income and help fellow villagers. They also involved in a project with the Outrigger on the Lagoon Resort on the Coral Coast. So, in a way, Mr Nawaqe and his men are on their way to achieving a dream. He said they brought in more young members of their mataqali to ensure their skills were passed on to the next generation and guarantee the sustainability of vegetable farming.
"Two of my sons are working in the farm and we are trying to bring in more members of our mataqali.
"It was hard at the start because it was the first time for all of us but after a lot of hard work, we can now be proud and show our garden to other villagers in the country," he said.
"Last week, a group of villagers from Serea in Naitasiri were brought to the farm by the Taiwan team to look at our work.
"They did not believe what they saw.
"I am proud because we achieved all this without using any machine," said Mr Nawaqe.
Paying attention to every detail, the vegetable garden will attract the attention of an expert or veteran farmer. The plots are measured and spaced out evenly, that no one would think it was done by hand. Group members who visit the garden daily to check on the growth of the plants, do a little watering while there. It's a clan affair and unique in that they started an initiative by the management of Outrigger on the Lagoon Resort to see that indigenous communities took advantage of the tourism industry.
It is known as the Olo Olo Farming Project and the aim is to supply top-quality fresh vegetables to nearby hotels. Mr Nawaqe and group were guided by the Outrigger's manager Ilaisa Cavu. They decided to grow vegetables consumed daily by tourists in resorts on the Coral Coast. Now they hope to provide the resorts with a consistent supply of fresh vegetables.
Mr Cavu said even though mataqali Naboka had attracted attention in Sigatoka, there were plans to extend. He said their commitment to the project was indicated by their decision to reserve 10 acres of their property and lease it for the project's development.
"They have a 30-year lease on the land and we are working to see the plantation is expanded.
"The resort is facilitating arrangements to secure funding from the Ministry for Agriculture under its rural assistance scheme so we can install a proper irrigation system," said Mr Cavu.
He said that while quality was their trademark, another factor they were working to was maintaining a regular supply.
"They have been harvesting in the past two weeks and we were surprised by the quality," said Mr Cavu.
"After this, the resort is determined to help them set up a company."
He said they would plant vegetables which could meet the quality and demand of hotels. He said they hoped to reduce the amount of vegetables which was imported from overseas and substitute them with local quality produce. The hard part for Mr Nawaqe and clan is to maintain the quality of their vegetables.
The mataqali Naboka Juanahali has done well so far and the future looks bright. They are reaping what they sowed.
How does SOPAC in all it's knowledge intend to catapult Fiji's agricultural industry as well guaranteeing trade markets in Europe.Post a Comment
I hardly ever hear SOPAC voice it's concerns over technology transfers in the agricultural sector from developed nations to South Pacific island nations.
Too bad, most of these experts ( citizens of Aust/N.Z) are just protecting their home nation's market. On a subtle level.
It's almost like having a Fox being consulted on security requirements of the hen house.
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