January 31, 2020 Food Processors Fiji Limited, Vatuwaqa
Bula vinaka to you all.
It’s a pleasure to be here to announce the launching of yet another new value added product.
As you all may be aware, the Ministry of Agriculture is mandated to grow agriculture in national interest. Growing agriculture in national interest will serve a number of purposes:
It will bring in the much needed foreign exchange via export of both primary commodities as well as processed products.
It will allows us to engage our labourers into meaningful and rewarding enterprises;
It will draw in and attract idle fertile land into productive use thus ensuring the owners of land get maximum returns;
It will provide source of livelihood for the rural dwellers; and,
It will assist us in meeting our food and nutritional security objective.
Now, this can only be achieved if we use innovative ways to market our products and penetrate into new markets. Producing on a small scale and trying to sell everything you have harvested at once does not give a competitive edge in the market. What we have seen in the past is that farmers sell their farm produce in the local market and even export it. However, a huge proportion of their product is lost due to;
-Perishability of the products
-Not being able to find a market for the produce
-Glut – in certain seasons
We also are encountering bio security issues when exporting fresh produce.
Ladies and Gentleman,
Let me tell you today. There is a very simple yet a very profitable way of overcoming this problem. This is through food processing and value adding. Fiji has a huge potential both in local and export market which can be unlocked by food processing and value addition. Not only it will solve these problems, it has several other benefits such as;
-Effective substitution of imported food products. Fiji market imports 100% of processed pineapple from Thailand, Indonesia, and USA market
-It adds value and increases farmers’ returns on their produce
-It expands market opportunities
-It improves shelf life to overcome seasonality and perishability
-Post harvest processing, handling and marketing, increases food availability at household and community levels, and thus contributes to food security.
Ladies and gentleman,
Fiji has a strategic advantage in this area. Why?
Unlike other countries, Fiji has the ideal climatic conditions to produce all year round. This enable Fiji to exploit the export market during off-season
We have one of the most fertile land suitable for crop agriculture. This will see a consistent supply of produce which can be processed.
Our pristine endowment gives us a leverage to go into organic farming.
At times, our farmers struggle to find market for their products and given that most agricultural products are perishable, it poses a risk to our farmers. A good example of farmers facing this problem are our pineapple farmers in areas such as Ba and Lautoka. We get a total pineapple production of over 3 tonnes from these areas alone.
Now, such challenges will result in;
-Farmers losing confidence; thus opting out of such products which has a huge export potential;
-Decrease in production and foreign exchange earning
-Decrease in agriculture’s contribution to the GDP
-Threat to food security
Ladies and Gentleman, setting up processing plants is one of the best ways to address these problems. I wish to applaud Food Processors for establishing a processing plant for Pineapple. This will be a major boost to incentivise local pineapple farmers to raise productivity, as well as raise production by bringing in more land under production.
Ladies Gentleman, let me briefly highlight on today’s product which we are launching;
-Pacific Crown Canned pineapple offers an alternative to imported product with minimum added preservatives.
-Health benefit - is a preferred option compared to junk foods
-Good source of Vitamin C
-The product is 100% Fijian Made
-Convenient for desserts, appetizers and salad
-Shelf life of one year
-As NCD is a major factor affecting health in our communities and schools, this product is natural and will promote healthy living.
Ladies and gentlemen, we are producing around 6500 tons of Pineapple in an year at a value of $7.8m. With this new market, we can raise the production by end of the year to at least $10m and in five year time, to at least $20m.
This is what I term as market led inducement of production rather than inducing production via subsidies and grants. Ladies and gentlemen, we are moving in the right direction in terms of incentivising the farmers by taking the market to them.
Ladies and Gentleman,
Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to thank Food Processors (Fiji) Ltd for pursuing such a venture which will be rewarding both to you and our hardworking farmers. I also challenge you to come up with more innovative ways and ideas to process and value add other agricultural produce. I urge our farmers and other processing companies to follow suit and take advantage of this of this lucrative business opportunity which will give them a competitive edge and improve the lives of Fijians.
With these words, it’s my pleasure to officially launch this exciting new product; Pacific Crown Canned pineapple and I look forward to its expansion and development for Fiji’s benefit.
God bless you all, and Vinaka Vakalevu.