CAPTION: FSPI Director, Mr Rex Horoi, ROC Taiwan Representative, H. E. Mr Ming Chang, and USP Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Administration and Regional Campuses), Dr Esther Williams. Photo: USP.
The University of the South Pacific in collaboration with the Foundation of the Peoples of South Pacific International and with sponsorship from ROC Taiwan has excelled once again in developing imperative positive actions towards promoting better standards of living across the region, by advancing import substitution and promoting local produce, through education, training and targeted assistance for Pacific farmers,partnering with Suva hotels Holiday Inn and Tanoa Plaza.
The USP School of Tourism and Hospitality Management (STHM) and the FSPI organized a dinner featuring local produce,to thank the ROC Taiwan, represented by H.E. Mr. Ming Chang and his team and acknowledge the benefits of this collaboration, at the Holiday Inn, Suva last night, celebrating the success of the first stage of a Farm to Table project, which was proposed jointly by the two organisations, in an effort to promote more consumption of locally grown produce for the tourism market.
The dinner was attended by the outgoing representative of the Republic of China (Taiwan), H.E. Mr Ming Chang, members of USP’s senior management team, executives from Fiji’s hotel industry and the two local farmers who have benefitted from assistance from the Republic of China (Taiwan) to encourage the cultivation of better local produce and to complement the transition between the subsistence sector and the final commodities for the consumer, taking into account the significant role both Education and the Tourism industry play in the process.
The project, initiated in 2012, saw greater training for two local Fijian farmers in utilizing technological advancements and natural resources available to them, in a way which could see their produce being used more effectively in the Tourism/ Hospitality industry (which is a significant source of revenue across the Pacific) as quality substitutes for imported products. The training was provided by the ROC Taiwan Technical Mission in Sigatoka.
The project saw continuous technical assistance and training being given to two farmers, Mr Nasim Ali and Mr Atu Kaitabu, by the ROC Taiwan and USP’s STHM.
Coordinator Hotel Management Greg Cornwall and Lecturer Dawn Gibson, from the STHM have been coordinating the programme, and continuously monitoring and reviewing the performance of the farmers throughout the year.
Taiwan’s trade representative, H.E. Mr Chang, thanked the University and said the government of Taiwan is delighted to work with the regional bodies, adding that, “one of the most important policies we encourage with our people is boosting agriculture and sharing with other countries, such as the Pacific region”.
H.E. Mr Chang also commented on the University’s aim in moving towards excellence, and said the Trade Mission was delighted to be part of the University’s endeavor.
“Good professors, and good students will contribute greatly towards communities, and this can be seen with the University going forward with these community-focused programmes,” he added.
H.E. Mr Chang mentioned that with Fiji being the hub of the Pacific, the government of Taiwan can work together with the University to promote sustainable community projects.
Talks of having similar farm to table projects in other Pacific Island countries are now underway.
Director FSPI, Mr Rex Horoi, said the Farm to Table programme is based on the well-known publication Me’a Kai written by Robert Oliver and Tracy Berno, which was awarded the best cookbook in the world in 2010, Gourmand World Cookbook Awards, Paris.
The book featured six countries, which are also members of the University, from the South Pacific: Cook Islands, Vanuatu, Fiji, Samoa, Tonga and Tahiti.
“The idea is that, this farm to table approach tries to promote the linkages between the agriculture sector and the tourism industry in any country, which means if you invest in agriculture, and link it to the tourism industry, you can get local produce being produced by the farmers and linking farmers to the restaurants and the hotel industry so that you can promote local food,” Mr Horoi added.
He said such a project would not only prove fruitful for the tourism industry but will also reduce the high amount of food that is imported by Pacific countries.