Suva, Fiji – Thirty enterprises from 12 Pacific Island countries and territories are making the most of the opportunity to strengthen their export capacity in agriculture, forestry and aquaculture in a European Union-funded project administered by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC).
The Increasing Agricultural Commodity Trade (IACT) project, with a total budget of €9 million, will assist with export development in the 15 Pacific members of ACP (African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States) over a period of four years.
IACT team leader, Samu Turagacati, of SPC Land Resources Division (LRD) based in Nabua, Fiji, said that the project was offered to all 15 Pacific ACP member states, and that 12 had taking up the offer.
‘The project’s main aim is to identify viable markets that Pacific enterprises can target with high quality agriculture, forestry and aquaculture products. Due to our size and other limitations we can position our products only in niche markets outside the region.
‘The project employs a whole-of-supply chain approach, helping commercial ventures and producer groups to become export-oriented, market-driven enterprises that are able to consistently supply overseas markets with competitive products. It is the market-led approach. Well-branded items can target niche markets overseas,’ explained Mr Turagacati.
‘If the market signals are strong and sustainable, then it is possible to build supply chains from the producer to the market,’ he said.
Mr Turagacati explained that, after a rigorous selection procedure, with final approval by a technical advisory group (TAG), a broad representation of enterprises from the agriculture, forestry, aquaculture, mariculture and livestock sectors has been chosen for the project.
The selection process included visits to the shortlisted businesses and a review of business plans. From the original 200 applications, 80 were selected for further screening, 57 of these were passed to the TAG committee, and 30 were finally selected.
The TAG committee comprises individuals from within the Pacific region with expertise in financial planning, marketing and economics, and managing agriculture, forestry, livestock or aquaculture/mariculture enterprises.
‘These are the hands-on industry people who are well versed in Pacific business cultures and also have experience and knowledge in international business. Some of them are business owners who started from scratch and made their way to success,’ Mr Turagacati said of the TAG members.
Mr Turagacati said that not all the selected enterprises would require four years of assistance. ‘As businesses meet their aims, it will be possible for other shortlisted applicants to enter the project.’
The IACT project follows the success of the pilot Facilitating Agricultural Commodity Trade programme that is drawing to a close. IACT sits within the LRD and is jointly supported by LRD and the Fisheries, Aquaculture and Marine Ecosystems Division of SPC.