Three thousand farmers will benefit from affordable supplies, expert advice and assistance after the Australian Government-funded Tei Tei Taveuni Farmers Resource Centre opened in Waiyevo, Taveuni on Wednesday 12 March.
The Fiji Community Development Program (FCDP), an Australian aid initiative, contributed over $180,000 to establish the centre in partnership with Tei Tei Taveuni, a local farmers’ collective.
“I commend FCDP and Tei Tei Taveuni for the innovative approach of working through a local farmers’ association to promote improved and sustainable livelihoods amongst the island’s farming communities,” said Acting Australian High Commissioner Glenn Miles.
“FCDP is pleased to be supporting this very unique project which aims to improve the condition of the soil for farmers on Taveuni, which will, in turn, improve the agricultural productivity and diversity in Taveuni,” added Michael Brownjohn, FCDP Team Leader.
With soil fertility decreasing after years of intensive farming, the resource centre will contribute to Tei Tei Taveuni’s sustainable farming efforts.
“Through the Resource Centre, Taveuni farmers will be able to purchase key agricultural inputs such as agricultural lime at wholesale prices, and have access to expert advice and follow-up assistance to rehabilitate their farms,” Mr Miles added.
“Given that dalo from Taveuni accounts for almost 80% of Fiji’s dalo exports, with annual earnings of $16 million, the long-term success of the industry is not only important for the island’s 3,000 farmers and their families, but to the nation’s economy as well.”
Mr Miles also acknowledged the partnering approach Tei Tei Taveuni has taken to address farmers’ needs.
Other agencies involved in Tei Tei Taveuni’s efforts include the Ministry of Agriculture, United Nations Development Program and Secretariat of the Pacific Community.