Fiji launches Dalo Quality Manual

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Friday, September 21 2018

Ministry of Agriculture Permanent Secretary, David Kolitagane (seated right) officially launched the Fiji Dalo Quality Manual at Navatukia Village in Serea, Naitasiri this week. PC: Australian High Commission in Fiji

A new manual has been developed and launched to help taro growers, buyers and exporters improve the quality of taro for the local and export markets.

The Fiji Dalo Quality Manual was launched in Navatukia Village in Serea, Sawani on 19 September 2018 by the Ministry of Agriculture’s Permanent Secretary, David Kolitagane.

Developed by the Ministry in collaboration with industry stakeholders including growers and traders, and the Pacific Horticultural and Agricultural Market Access (PHAMA) Program, an Australian Government initiative co-funded by the New Zealand Government, the manual provides a way forward to improving the quality and exports of taro (locally known as dalo) from Fiji.

A workshop was also held in the interior of Naitasiri in recognition of the many hardworking farmers and communities producing taro in the area for the local and exports markets. Nearly 130 taro growers from across the main taro-producing areas including Kadavu and Gau, the interior of Ra, Taveuni and the interior of Tailevu also participated in the workshop.

With approximately 37,000 taro farms around the country, taro is an important staple food as well as important export product in Fiji’s economy. It is the largest agricultural export product with an average annual export volume of approximately 10,000 tons valued at around $F21million over the past five years. Fiji’s major export destinations are New Zealand (valued at approximately 65% of this export) while the balance in export is shared among Australia, the United States, Canada and Pacific island countries including Kiribati and Tuvalu.

Vaseva Viakara, a taro grower from Waitolu Village in Naitasiri, goes through a copy of the recently launched Fiji Dalo Quality Manual at the Suva Municipal Market. The manual was developed by the Ministry of Agriculture and PHAMA Program PC: Samantha Rina

Given the importance of taro to rural and urban communities alike, it is a concern that exports of premium quality taro have been declining. While this is partly attributable to the two cyclones and prolonged drought that have affected Fiji, solutions need to be identified to increase volumes and quality of export products. The Fiji Dalo Quality Manual is among the recommended solutions that has the potential to improve exports of premium taro.

With increasing competition in taro export markets from other countries in the Pacific and beyond, New Zealand and Australia have very stringent import conditions which mean they will only accept taro that is of high quality and has been processed appropriately. For these reasons it is increasingly important that there is a focus on delivering high quality taro by all those involved in taro production and export.

The manual aims to ensure that taro grown in Fiji is:

  • Produced, harvested and processed according to good handling standards to maintain its quality;
  • Safe and healthy to consume;
  • Locally and internationally renowned and recognised as a quality product; and
  • Complies with the biosecurity, quality and other requirements of target export markets.

The Fiji Dalo Quality Manual contains clear and up-to-date information and images on how to grow a premium taro product and maintain its quality from farm to consumer. The manual also includes a detailed description of Fijian taro varieties for export and important local varieties; noting that conservation of local varieties such as “vavai dina”, “dalo ni toga” and “vavai loa” is crucial to the future of traditional root crops and part of ensuring food security. Posters have also been developed outlining the criteria used in the grading of quality dalo and the dalo value chain.

PHAMA has been supporting efforts to develop and advance the taro industry through the production of the manual and other initiatives including the support given to major taro exporters in acquiring Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) accreditation – a management system that addresses food safety issues. This support has helped to open new higher-priced markets, allowing exporters to secure better prices and increase export volumes.

Taro growers Sakiusa Tuduadua, right, and Bese Ravula discuss the contents of a newly released Dalo Quality poster. The poster was launched this week with the Fiji Dalo Quality Manual in Naitasiri. PC: Samantha Rina

For further information, contact Losalini Leweniqila at l.leweniqila@phama.biz

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