Caption: Permanent Secretary for Agriculture Ropate Ligairi talks to a journalist at the refresher training on ginger exports in Suva.
Thursday, 17 April 2014. Suva, Fiji — Ginger growers in Fiji who are preparing to export their first consignment of fresh ginger to Australia have been reminded to be extremely vigilant about quality, consistency and volume.
The reminder came from Ropate Ligairi, the Permanent Secretary for Agriculture when he opened a one-day refresher training on ginger exports in Suva this week. More than 40 growers, agriculture officers and Biosecurity Authority of Fiji (BAF) workers attended the training.
“Ginger as we all know is already now a $12 million industry and with the opening of marketing opportunities, this will surely broaden our economic base and provide employment to more of our ordinary people,” Mr Ligairi told participants.
“You should be vigilant about meeting standards. Australia is a big market and as you know big market means big dollars. Remember quality, consistency and volume should be your watchword.”
PHAMA – the Pacific Horticultural Market Access Program – funded the one-day training and its Suva-based Deputy Team Leader Bronwyn Wiseman said after years of trying to break into the Australian ginger market, Fiji’s ginger industry has reached an “exciting point.”
“There were a lot of hurdles but through a lot of negotiations we are now at an exciting point.”
Ms Wiseman said after assisting Fiji’s plans to export ginger to Australia in the last three years, PHAMA’s advice to local ginger growers would be to be vigilant about quality.
In his presentation, Ilaisa Dakaica – Manager Standard, Policy & Compliance at BAF said the process to break into the Australian ginger market has been long and arduous. He said Fiji presented its market access submission to the Australian Department of Agriculture in 2003 and the Australian authorities did not consider it until 2012.
“But it came in good time, and Australia did their Import Risk Analysis Audit in October 2013 and on 28 February 2014, we received our letter of approval from Australia’s Department of Agriculture to export ginger.”
Mr Dakaica said quality control is crucial in ginger exports and to counter pests, all Australian-bound ginger exports would be fumigated. He said as part of their agreement with the Australian authorities, the first shipment of Fijian ginger exports is scheduled in the months of August and September this year.
Both Mr Dakaica and Mr Ligairi expressed gratitude to the Australian Government-funded PHAMA Program in assisting the local ginger industry to meet the high standards of the Australian export market.
Participants at the refresher training on ginger exports discussed topics like farmer registration, good farming practices, preserving good soil quality, pest control and tips about harvesting and processing.
Training was held at the Southern Cross Hotel in Suva on Wednesday (16 April).