Island’s organic journey

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iTaukei Trust Fund Board (TTFB) project co-ordinator Rotuma Alfred Wiliame Jr presents to the Counci of Rotuma on the PGS workshop and the plans in certifi cating Rotuma as an organic island, including projects embarked for Rotuma. Picture: SUPPLIED

A study has shown that Rotuma has the potential to engage in organic pollinated seed production for business.

The study was carried out by the Pacific Ethical Trade Community (POETCom), the governing body of the organics movement within the Pacific Community (SPC).

According to the iTaukei Trust Fund Board (TTFB), a team, made up of representatives from the TTFB, the SPC, POETcom and consulting company Matanataki, visited Rotuma in March to conduct a three-day training workshop on the participant guarantee system (PGS) for organic certification.

The workshop was attended by 40 participants, including chiefs and growers, women and youths from Rotuma’s seven districts.

According to the TTFB, the objective of the workshop was to start certifying land lots around the island and gradually expand, allowing development stakeholders to properly manage waste in order to comply with organic standards towards PGS certification for the whole island.

After the March trip, business consulting firm Matanataki recommended in their report there were some very good natural products already thriving on the island that could be sustainably managed as organic export products, including Rotuma kava, coconuts and organic seedlings.

This week, the TTFB and the Council of Rotuma announced their delight at receiving its Organic Rotuma certification from POETCom.

“This is an exciting new journey for Rotuma and for the board. We are happy to be part of this key milestone for Rotuma’s organic accreditation. Having an accredited organic status will only boost Rotuma’s economic and environmental sustainability efforts,” said TTFB chief executive officer Aisake Taito.

The TTFB stated representatives of the Council of Rotuma credited this initiative as an excellent and noble recognition of the efforts of many individuals and organisations, particularly TTFB, SPC, POETcom, Matanataki and the people of Rotuma.

It stated Rotuma Organic would be the island’s benchmark for niche markets where excellence in performance became the norm, a symbol that all Rotumans could proudly cherish and take responsible ownership for.

Meanwhile, further discussions with the Council of Rotuma are expected in the areas of identifying an organic product to start with, including possible healthy value-added products.

According to the statement, some suggested products included turmeric, virgin coconut oil and organic seeds and it would also look into upskilling and capacity building for people identified to lead these various projects and securing sustainable export markets for these identified organic products.

Mr Taito said TTFB was in discussion with the Ministry of Agriculture to pilot a project on the establishment of an organic seedlings nursey for commercial purposes.

He said it was an exciting chapter for Rotuma’s organic journey because of the expected wide-range benefits seedlings production would bring to the people of Rotuma, adding that seedlings could also assist in food security rehabilitation efforts after natural disasters.

The TTFB-funded training workshop was facilitated by the Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Rural and Maritime Development and National Disaster Management and conducted by the SPC’s Land Resources Division – POETCom technical team and consulting company Matanataki.