Chefs & Farmers Join Forces to Promote Local Foods in Top Restaurants

1 July 2015

Nadi, Fiji – Forty chefs and farmers from countries across the Pacific met at the Pacific CommunityAgritourism Week in Fiji, with many discussing business transactions on-site to supply local produce to restaurants and resorts.

Farmers meet with the Pacific chefs at Buyer-Seller Mart

The Buyers-Sellers Mart is part of the Agritourism Week, which aims to bring together farmers and tourism operators with a view to promoting local produce and to tempt tourists with more contemporary Pacific cuisine on local menus.

The week is a collaboration between the European Union, Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), South Pacific Tourism Organisation (SPTO) and the School of Tourism and Hospitality Management at the University of the South Pacific (USP). Other event partners include the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) and the Pacific Islands Private Sector Organisation (PIPSO).

The Buyers-Sellers Mart brought together 20 farmers and 20 chefs in a format similar to ‘speed dating’, where they had short 10-minute sessions with each other to quickly meet, exchange ideas and discuss any direct-supply opportunities.

Being a first for the region, the Buyers-Sellers Mart also attracted attention from international dignitaries, impressed with the Mart’s practical and effective approach.

This included H.E. Roy Mickey Joy, Chairman of the ACP Committee of Ambassadors and Ambassador of Vanuatu to the European Union, who encouraged the Pacific region to keep exploring practical ways of linking farmers to such important markets. The same sentiment was echoed by Fiji’s Minister for Agriculture, Mr Inia Seruiratu, who joined the Mart “to encourage the farmers further develop agritourism”, and then took the time to meet with each chef and farmer and listen to their issues and ideas.

Participant and farmer-trainer, Reuben Moli of Solomon Islands, said: “This is the way forward, it’s two-way as we learn what chefs want and the chefs are learning from the farmers about what products we have.”

Many of the 20 chefs arranged business transactions with farmers to supply local foods for their tourism business as a direct result of the Buyers Sellers Mart.

Chef de Partie at Fiji’s Shangri La Resort, Mr Rizwan Ali, was “happy to join this workshop”.

He said: “I am gaining more experience with local products, as usually I just go to work and come home again, but this way I visit the farmers and learn about the local products that are available and also how to cook the local food in different ways.”

Tongan caterer, Ms Heimoana Ali, said: “I wish there would be more of this happening! Ihave learned the benefits of how to cook more varieties of local dishes and to adapt our menu based on what’s available locally and I have been able to establish promising business contacts with ginger producers”.,

Wednesday’s Buyer-Seller Mart was just one of many activities, such as site visits, cooking demonstrations and capacity building, taking place during the Agritourism Week. The Agritourism Week is being held from 29 June to 3 July and involves about 100 attendees from the Pacific, Caribbean and Indian Ocean.

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