Tuesday 18 February 2014, Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), Suva – The European Union and the Government of Australia have jointly helped support the first ever commercial mud crab business in Fiji. The Crab Company of (Fiji) Ltd. started operating in 2011, and today it celebrated the launch of its new and improved farming and processing facilities in Navua.
The facilities are expected to help the business increase their production and better serve the market demands for Fiji’s mud crabs.
The European Union-provided support came from the Increasing Agricultural Commodity Trade (IACT) project. This EU-funded initiative is a regional programme undertaken in 15 Pacific ACP countries and implemented by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC).
The crab company is also supported by the Australian Government through the Market Development Facility (MDF), its flagship program for private sector development in Fiji.
Speaking at the launch, both donors described the event as a significant development for the aquaculture industry in the country and applauded the company’s progress since it began operations.
The importance of trade as one of the most effective ways to help boost economic development was highlighted by the European Union Delegation for the Pacific representative, Jesús Lavina.
‘Through the IACT project, 42 enterprises are supported in order to modernise their operations, expand their business and create sustainable employment opportunities for the local communities. This project is an important part of our efforts to improve the export capacity within the private sector. Therefore we actively support enterprises, particularly those that will help create meaningful jobs for the people of the Pacific and help improve their livelihoods,’ he added.
Similar views were expressed by Deputy Australian High Commissioner, Karinda D’Aloisio.
‘Today’s event is significant, not only as the official launch of the Crab Company of Fiji’s farm and facilities in Navua, but the beginning of a new commercial mud-crab industry for the country. This is an industry that will help to improve income opportunities for local women and families dependent on the mangroves for their livelihood,’ she said.
MDF’s assistance has focused on improving hatchery production, rehabilitation and construction of new crab ponds, and piloting of the new grow-out mangrove pens while EU assistance has focused on capacity building, processing and packaging training and equipment.
The Country Representative for MDF Fiji, Mohammad Shahroz Jalil, said that, with some of the mangrove pens already set up in Navua, the company is now in a better position to understand and demonstrate the grow-out scheme to interested villages.
‘Going forward, we eagerly await the installation of the grow-out pens among coastal communities,’ he added.
IACT project team leader, Samu Turagacati, explained that the contribution made by the European Union towards the processing facility, will help the company to safely process live mud crabs for domestic and export markets.
Currently, the business supplies over a dozen local hotels and restaurants, and is exploring exporting opportunities to larger overseas markets in the future.