Commodity farmers trained on contract farming

Seated third from left Simon Cole, Chairman of FCLC, Jiu Daunivalu (seated 3rd from right) with workshop participants. Photo: SUPPLIED.

 The Fiji Crop and Livestock Council (FCLC) in partnership with the Food & Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations recently held a series of contract farming workshops for the farmers in the non-sugar agriculture sector and associated stakeholders including the buyers and exporters.

Funded by FAO, the workshops were held in Suva, Labasa and Nadi. These were a follow up to contract farming forums that were held in 2015, which introduced FCLC farmers to new opportunities in commercial agriculture through the contract farming.

“The purpose of these workshops were to look at improving commercial farming, to give farmers confidence to grow crops, and to give buyers confidence that their crops will be delivered at the right time and right quality when they need it for processing, export, or for the local market,” said FCLC Chairman, Simon Cole.

“In Fiji, where we have thin markets that can go very quickly from over-supply to under-supply, contract farming can contribute to buffer some of those risks for both parties,” Mr Cole said.

Contract farming involves an agreement between buyers or processors and farmers for the production, supply, and marketing of agricultural products. FCLC was mandated by Government in 2010 to support and encourage the commercialisation of agricultural farming in Fiji.

“There is strength in working in groups and there is a role for the associations and the head of the associations to monitor, adapt, and adopt these contracts, to mentor some of their farmers in these contracts.

“I see a huge role for FCLC in providing that communication structure in this contract farming concept. It’s absolutely essential,” Mr Cole added.

Manasa Tumuri, Vice-President of the Fiji Dalo Farmers Association, who was present in the Suva workshop, said that “it has given small-holder farmers an understanding of how to write a contract as well as the awareness to upscale production to become fully commercial even without lease.”

To date 12 commodity associations comprise the Council and they are Grazing Livestock, Dalo, Yaqona, Cocoa, Ginger, Rice, Fiji Foods Exporters Association, Pigs, Beekeepers, Fruit and Vegetable, Organics, and Copra.