Agribusiness Masterclass

A market always comprises both supply and demand and the interaction between the buyers and sellers of a product. The availability of a particular product and the demand for that product are both factors which influence its price.

Nature’s Way Co-operative have been supplying the Australia and New Zealand market since 1995 and Research and Extension Officer, Timote Waqainabete says the demand for Fiji Red Papaya is extremely high.

‘The Fiji Red Papaya has a premium quality that is in great demand in both these markets and currently, we are only able to supply 18% of the Australian markets. There is still room for improvement in strengthening our supplies to Australia and New Zealand.’

While the potential for growth in these markets are strong, Waqainabete explained the existing relationship between farmers and exporters in addition to the effects of natural disasters are the constraints they face in meeting the demand of a rising population.

‘Through value chain analysis, we’ve identified the weakest link which we are now in partnership with Pacific Island Farmers Organisation Network (PIFON) and Pacific Agribusiness Research in Development Initiative 2 (PARDI2) to develop more trust and transparency among our farmers and exporters that will generate more income for us and our members which will be crucial to our future success,’ Waqainabete said.

Leading the discussions in yesterday’s presentations on agricultural markets and market research, Dr. Wendy J. Umberger of the University of Adelaide said there were many factors that contributed towards the changes in supply and demand faced by producers.

‘There are a lot of factors at play that can cause the changes including changes in tastes and preferences, population, international trade, income levels, taxes and subsidies as well as exchange rates that can affect both the domestic and international markets,’ Umberger said.

Sanfred Smith, the General Manager for Kava Fiji Limited highlighted his concerns about unscrupulous producers on preparation methods of kava which he said could pose potential health risks for consumers.

‘Sixty percent of our kava is geared towards the international market in Australia, New Zealand and the and the US. The concern for us is the growth of the global market which comes with its own set of regulatory requirements which if not complied withbri risks associated with the health of consumers and the general reputation of the kava industry,’ Smith said.

He also welcomed commitments by the Ministry of Agriculture in their aim to standardize the development phases of kava products.

Also attending the Agribusiness Masterclass is the Director of Forest Resource Assessment and Conservation of the Ministry of Forestry, Deborah Sue who says the demand for seedlings in their Four Million Trees in Four Years Programme is very high.

‘At the moment, our supplies cannot match the demand for native seedlings across Fiji so we’re working together with a wide cross section of communities to build up nurseries to which we provide technical training. It is important to the natural heritage and identity of the country, its environment and ecosystems.’

She added the Colo-i-suva Forest Parks will be developed into a model park that other communities in Fiji may follow.

The Agribusiness Master Class will continue this afternoon with farm tours planned for the afternoon.

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