Pacific: Training continues in the context of Covid

Agriculture in the Pacific region has suffered during the pandemic due to its close relationship with tourism. COLEACP’s regional relay in Fiji, Mereia Volavola, describes the impact:

“The Covid19 pandemic seriously affected the businesses in the Pacific, especially the tourism and agriculture sectors. As the international borders closed, the tourism industry collapsed and the demand and export supply for agricultural produce fell. Shipments via airlines and ships were drastically affected as the number of flights and ships reduced and cost of freight increased significantly.

Agribusiness focused on local demand and explored ways to increase online shopping. While demand for some agricultural produce fell, others increased, like turmeric and ginger. This was due to an increase in customers’ awareness of the health benefits of these herbal products, especially during the global pandemic.”

Almost two years after closing its borders, it was recently announced that Fiji will reopen to fully vaccinated travellers from listed countries from November 11, though the official reopening will be on 1 December, when the country’s first scheduled tourism flight on national carrier Fiji Airways will arrive (The Guardian, 14 October).

In this difficult context, COLEACP support in the region through the Fit For Market and Fit For Market SPS programmes, has been focusing on capacity building for horticultural SMEs.

In July, technical staff of horticultural companies (quality managers, packhouse managers and internal auditors) took part in digital training on Food Safety and Quality Management Systems. The four-week training series covered topics such as regulatory requirements and standards, packhouse organisation, self-assessment principles, risk analysis and hazard identification, and traceability systems.

And in August-September, management and sales staff of SMEs and exporters’ associations participated in virtual training on Commercial Negotiation. Businesses currently facing challenges learned how to prepare a commercial negotiation; develop a negotiation strategy; master communication during a negotiation, including in an international context; bring buyers to an agreement within a contractual framework; and establish lasting business relationships.

Some comments from participants:

“I got to know there is a deeper meaning to commercial negotiations.”

“This training is going to help me and my company as we are just preparing to explore the international market with our products.”

“Am very grateful to the trainers and COLEACP for giving me the chance to participate in this training [and hope it will be] possible to have more people in my region benefit from such training in the coming days.”

These activities are supported by the Fit For Market and Fit For Market SPS programmes, implemented by COLEACP within the Framework of Development Cooperation between the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS) and the European Union. Fit For Market is co-funded by the French Development Agency (AFD).

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