Farms and tourism promising: Minister

Agri-business and tourism offer one of the most promising avenues for diversification and trade growth for the agriculture sector in the Pacific, says Fijian Agriculture Minister Inia Seruirata.

“Integrating these two economic activities presents opportunities for stronger collaboration around agribusiness development in niche markets in support of local agrifood sector and small-scale farmers while reducing the import bill of Pacific island economies,” Seruirata said when opening a regional agribusiness forum in Nadi yesterday.

The forum was organised to exchange experience on successes demonstrating the potential of agri-tourism markets, particularly in strengthening linkages between national and regional value chain actors with the tourism industry.

PNG was represented by the Department of Agriculture and Livestock and PNG Women in Agriculture Development Foundation.

Seruirata said the rise in population across the Pacific and the influx of tourists into countries like Fiji had put more pressure on locally available food to feed them, which prompted island states to continue to import.

He said it was important to bring together the diverse group of actors that are active in the agribusiness sector, which can participate in the value and market chain with the aid of financial institutions. This will mean more local food produced for the tourism sector which in turn will put money in farmers pockets.

Seruirata also pointed out that access to finance was a common challenge for many Pacific businesses, especially micro and SMEs, and urged financial institutions to offer some solutions.

The three-day forum is organised by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community, the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation, and the Pacific Private Sector Organizations.

Seniorl Anzu