Learning From The Survivors
A synthesis of factors that underpin the success and survival of agribusinesses in the Pacific | Version 2: March 2020
Agriculture in the Pacific Islands is critical for food security, employment and income generation, social networks, health and well being, a pillar supporting Pasifika lives and livelihoods.
Which is why in 2018, we explored the success factors and constraints that underpin agricultural development and agribusinesses in the region. Our team surveyed fifteen agribusinesses in the project’s three focus countries of Fiji, Tonga and Vanuatu in order to document their lessons learned over decades of trial and error, success and failure. These agribusinesses collectively have more than 200 years of operating experience.
Pacific Islands entrepreneurs are resilient people. The business regulatory environment is often hard to navigate, inefficient and can change with limited notice. Agriculture in the Pacific Islands is an inherently risky business and agribusiness owners and managers have to manage losses from extreme weather events, pest and disease outbreaks, post-harvest handling constraints and unreliable transport services. Support services for agribusinesses are not well developed and domestic markets tend to be small. The underlying cultural context and land tenure systems are also critical factors in the types of agribusiness and practices that will be successful.
Agribusinesses that have developed strategies to navigate this terrain, overcoming obstacles to not only survive but thrive, have lessons for all agribusinesses in the region. Learning From The Survivors attempted to address some key questions:
- What are the success factors that have underpinned the viability, resilience and sustainability of agribusinesses in Fiji, Tonga and Vanuatu?
- What are the main common factors that constrain agribusiness development?
- How can R&D programmes that seek to support agricultural development learn from the experiences of agribusinesses in the region to better target their support?
During our deep-dive, powerful themes were identified including 8 common success factors and 7 common constraints. Specific examples are given throughout the report of practices that illustrate the application of these success factors and constraints within the agribusinesses surveyed.
- Understanding the requirements of the market
- Transparency across the value chain
- Strong relationships across the value chain
- Quality assurance / standards
- Good staff management and employee satisfaction
- Resilience and risk management planning
- Diversification of revenue from a solid core business foundation
- Provision of quality support services for growers
- The regulatory environment
- Incoherent government policy
- Supply issues, including seasonality, consistency and economies of scale
- Weak research capability
- Extreme events and climate change
- Human resource constraints
You’ll also find recommendations for research and development (R&D) and policy interventions. It is written primarily for those involved in supporting agribusinesses in the Pacific Islands region. This may include agricultural researchers, government agencies supporting agriculture and business development more broadly, farmer organisations, private sector organisations, business advisory services and associations, non-government organisations and development partners. It may also be of broader interest to agribusinesses, students and those interested in agricultural development.