A regional networking event organised by CTA in Tonga resulted in a business relationship between two Fijian agro-based enterprises that has exciting prospects for Pacific Island value chains and nutrition.
The networking event in December 2018, which was initiated under the project ‘Promoting nutritious food systems in the Pacific Islands’, aimed to facilitate opportunities for regional agro-based small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to network, share experiences and learn from each other.
Among the 100 attendees were TraSeable Solutions, one of the ICT teams competing in the finals of the concurrent 2018 Pacific AgriHack Lab, and Nature’s Way Cooperative (NWC), which was participating in the learning journey to Tonga. Though both from Fiji, neither had met before.
NWC carries out mandatory quarantine treatment on Fijian fruit and vegetables under the Bilateral Quarantine Agreement established with importing countries. Founded in 1995 and handling 30 t of papaya a year, NWC now treats and packs 1,300 t of papaya, mango, breadfruit and aubergine for export annually. The exporters, who are cooperative members, buy their products from farmers, who are also cooperative members, and bring them to NWC for treatment and packing before shipment overseas. NWC currently has around 350 member shareholders, most of whom are small farmers.
Looking to modernise its processes, NWC applied for an Innovation Grant Facility (IGF), a CTA and IFAD-funded grant of up to €17,000 to enable Pacific agro-SMEs to expand their business and contribute, directly or indirectly, to the sustainable development of the agriculture and fishery sectors.
“We saw the IGF as an opportunity to introduce a more efficient traceback system for our export commodities, as part of a broader strategy around digitalising our value chain”, explains Donald Pickering, NWC’s general manager. “Specifically, we used the grant to digitalise our grower supply form and develop a web-based traceability system that links the grower supply information with the treatment data of the supplied commodities. In addition, we are transitioning from multiple stamped codes on export cartons to a single printed QR code linked to the traceability system. This will provide real-time data on the carton and/or consignment and vastly improve traceback times if any issues arise.”
Following their initial meeting in Tonga, NWC contracted TraSeable Solutions to build the traceability system after verifying the company had the right experience and capabilities to meet NWC’s needs.