FRIEND Fiji, Fiji Islands
Cash Crop Farming
FRIEND works with farmers in clusters to grow crops in large volume for ease of marketing.
Farmers are encouraged to work with crops they have existing knowledge on and can be used for import substitution for example pulses, cereals, herbal teas and root crops. Some of these are then value added through processing for feed, cereals and teas packaged and sold under the Friend’s Fiji Style® brand name.
Farmers are assisted with a variety of support mechanisms to fill the needs gap like seed distribution, nursery set ups and irrigation set ups as per needs of the farming clusters.
In some cases we try and better organize the farmers and link them to the market.
The program also advocates and supports the set-up of fruit orchards for longer term cash returns. More than 50 farmers have adopted organic farming under the Participatory Guarantee System as FRIEND promotes healthier and sustainable farming.
People with limited land area are facilitated with shelf gardens for planting of high end crops for regular income.
Economic Empowerment is key to achieve our dream of poverty alleviation. Our communities have abundance of organically growing resources and great skills however have had many challenges with value chain- product development and marketing. FRIEND has been working consistently since its inception in utilising traditional resources and skills to develop sustainable livelihood projects for steady source of income for the families.
FRIEND starts with social empowerment, goal setting and financial literacy programs as it supports with development of product in clusters to ensure volume for the market. Where needed these products are marketed by FRIEND under the brand name of Friend’s Fiji Style®.
In some cases projects are developed for already existing markets e.g. poultry.
Friend’s Fiji Style® Gourmet Products
Friend’s Fiji Style® is a brand name used by FRIEND for the promotion of quality food products resulting from poverty alleviation initiatives in communities.
Traditional homemade recipes for jams, pickles, chutneys, herbal teas, flours, dried fruits etc are helping many earn an income through FRIEND. The first groups of beneficiaries are those who farm and forage raw materials that are required for value added products. The raw materials we work with include tamarind, mangoes, citrus, chillies, rosella, cinnamon, and lemon grass to name a few. At quality controlled production centers, trained and skilled workers engage in various processes to prepare the goods for the market. FRIEND works with the freshest of raw materials to maintain quality products.
Fresh raw materials are collected at FRIEND Food Processing Facilities in Lautoka and Labasa to ensure quality and consistency of products demanded by the market. The resulting products are turned into Friend’s Fiji Style® Jams, Pickles, Chutneys, Herbal Teas, Spices, Gluten Free Flours, Desiccated Coconut and Dried Fruits. Friend’s Fiji Style® products are prepared and packaged without any artificial additives and are made in a wholesome and healthier way using recipes used for generations in Fiji homes.
The newly constructed FRIEND production center in Lautoka, “Sue Ni Vakatoko” or “House of Cooking” is compliant with international quality standards. The facility was set up with the assistance from the European Union and was inaugurated in August 2013.
The facility in Labasa works with farmers in Vanua Levu and collects and processes spices, flours and teas from the Northern Division.
Communities are also provided training on drying fruits and root crops for home consumption and sale of surplus produce for income. Approved communities and suppliers are also able to sell to FRIEND.
Friend’s Bee Keeping project is aimed at assisting families to improve their supplementary incomes and increase pollination in farms.
Bee Keeping for income was a concept born as a result of a larger project designed to assist the disadvantaged families in the sugar industry with limited access to land. With assistance from the European Union, 80 farmers were trained and equipped with sets of 5 -10 double hives. FRIEND trains project holders on good management practices of beekeeping and honey extraction as well as trainings on planning, budgeting and record keeping.
Candle making using bees wax, building of bee boxes and foundations and collection of propolis is also part of the training provided. The high demand for honey provides easy access to market.