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Archived News: April 2021

From Fiji Sun (21 April 2021)

Market Area Planned For Rotuma: Kumar

The minister said they were not only looking at setting up the market near the Government Stations but also near the Rotuma Airport.

by Sampras Anand

There is good news for people living in Rotuma because there are plans to develop a market on the island.

This was revealed by the Minister for Local Government Premila Kumar during her visit to Labasa in the past week.

Ms Kumar said during one of her personal trips to the island, she met with the Rotuma Council representative, who mentioned the need for a market.

She said the visit allowed her to get clarification from the council in terms of the logistics that was needed to set up the market.

"We need to know where the land is and who owns the land," Ms Kumar said.

"Once this is complete, then we could facilitate a simple market in Rotuma."

The minister said they were not only looking at setting up the market near the Government Stations but also near the Rotuma Airport.

Ms Kumar said this would provide the best opportunity for the islanders to sell their produce and traditional desserts to travellers.

She said this would help stir up the economic activity on the island.

"We have already got the approval for the Government Station where we would put up the market," she said.

For the airport area, the discussions were now ongoing with the Fiji Airports Limited.

"For the ministry, getting the clearance was vital because we had to conform to their requirements," Ms Kumar added.

From The Pacific Community (15 April 2021)

Fiji President lauds organic certification effort

Dan Fatiaki

In recognition of Fiji's Rotuma island seeking organic status, Fiji's President, His Excellency Major General (Retired) Jioji Konrote hosted island representatives, the Fiji Ministry of Agriculture, organic certification partners and staff from the Pacific Community's (SPC) Land Resources Division (LRD) at his official residence on April 12, 2021. The organic effort in Rotuma is the result of a collaboration between the Itaukei Trust Fund Board, the Ministry of Agriculture, business and marketing consultant Matanataki and LRD. An expert team from LRD trained by the POETCom organic initiative in Participatory Guarantee System (PGS) organic certification visited Rotuma in late March to assess interest from the Island Council in starting the certification process.

During the Presidential event, His Excellency Konrote was briefed on an upcoming visit to Rotuma to discuss options for organic certification and business opportunities. While offering his support, His Excellency affirmed that the organic work starting in Rotuma is something for which he has been waiting a very long time. The initiative complements other campaigns, such as the Fiji Home Gardening Campaign, which President Konrote is currently spearheading.

The visit also included a brief on the Fiji National Organic Policy that has been finalised by the Fiji Organic Task Force of the Ministry of Agriculture for submission to cabinet.

Organic farming in Fiji provides a host of benefits, including healthier food, protection of biodiversity, climate change mitigation and adaptation, food and nutritional security, prevention of land degradation, and creation of employment opportunities. Going organic also empowers communities that are often neglected, such as women and youth.

Eleven farmers on Rotuma have expressed their interest in receiving organic certification. The LRD staff responsible for ensuring organic certification are all from the island. Fluency in island language, culture and traditions will help the team better understand the dynamics of certification, as well as successes and failures.

LRD's certification guidance will cover organic pest management, soil improvement, open pollinated seed production, biosecurity and agronomy – all in collaboration with Ministry of Agriculture staff in Rotuma. The Ministry of Agriculture Land Use section has also visited Rotuma and that team's recommendations will be integrated into the certification process.

An agreement to establish the Participatory Guarantee System has been made, and SPC is looking to May 2021 for signing the PGS licensing agreement during Rotuma Day celebrations on the island.

Land Resources Division (LRD)