The Government of the Republic of Fiji (GoF) has requested IFAD financial assistance for the design and funding of a project to strengthen the development of agribusiness within the country in order to promote more profitable production and trade of agricultural produce for export, processing, the tourism sector and domestic markets. In addition, the project should upscale successful elements of the existing IFAD grant-funded Partnerships in High Value Agriculture (PHVA) pilot project. The new project was identified by Asia and Pacific Division staff at IFAD in collaboration with stakeholders in Fiji and the resulting Concept Note was approved to proceed to design by the Operational Strategy and Policy Guidance Committee. The country has yet to receive loan financing from IFAD. According to IFAD’s Performance-Based Allocation System, the loan finance available for the new project is estimated at USD 3.52 million.
Since 2004, IFAD’s commitment to Fiji has been manifested largely through the nation’s inclusion in a number of small regional grant programmes, including IFAD sponsorship of WTO Roundtable meetings and of the development of regional certification standards for organic agriculture. In addition, Fiji was a beneficiary of a large two-phase regional grant programme, completed in 2011, entitled Mainstreaming of Rural Development Innovations(MORDI) that was funded for a total of USD 3.5 million over six years in Fiji, Kiribati and Tonga.
The ongoing PHVA initiative is being implemented by the Fijian NGO Partners for Community Development Foundation (PCDF) for an amount of USD 500,000 over two years from December 2012. PHVA was designed to build on the successes of MORDI and pave the way for an eventual lending programme in the country by piloting a small number of interventions to explore new approaches around community development and the commercialisation of high-value fruits and vegetables. PHVA targets communities in three relatively remote upland districts in Viti Levu, which have good agricultural production potential due mainly to altitude, but lack effective market linkages to hotels, retail consumer markets and exporters.
The two PHVA activity areas are:
- Production and Marketing of High Value Crops (Identification and formation of farmer groups, Training of farmers, Community facilitation, and Establishment of a commercial seedling nursery); and
- Market Linkages and Facilitation (Market research, Value chain assessments, Market linkage activities, and Pilot credit scheme).
As initial project start-up was delayed to March 2013, it is too early to draw conclusions on the efficacy or otherwise of the approaches and modalities under test. In particular, the sustainability of the established group enterprises beyond the initial period of NGO management and direction is difficult to assess. However, the field visits conducted by the present mission suggest that considerable progress has been made.