John Tierney speaking at the Kai Natura Taokotai meeting yesterday. 22121214
A Cook Islands co-operative of farmers and growers are moving forward in marketing and branding their unique products here and around the world.
Members of Kai Natura Taokotai (KNT) gathered at the
National Auditorium on Monday where a number of guest speakers from here and
abroad outlined the purpose, actions and solutions for a primary economy
hammered by the likes of Covid-19 in recent years.
The group is seeking access to a wider range of
markets and have their eyes on a range of solutions including the establishment
of a more than $1 million secure heat treatment plant, a set of New Zealand
biosecurity standards certified by the NZ Ministries and managed by the Cook
Islands Agriculture Ministry, and a short list of certified crops for export to
Outlined in Monday’s meeting, the next step is for
farmers and Government to agree on industry diversification, biosecurity
measures, quarantine standards, pack house assets and heat treatment measures. That
would evolve to become Cook Islands food brands through a marketing strategy.
Group technical adviser James Burns said there is now
an opportunity to kick off primary industries again.
He said primary industries were the backbone of the
economy prior to the 1970s, and the advent of tourism.
“Right now is the time to revive the primary sector,
there is a co-operative working together to establish partnerships, and
liaising with the Minister of Agriculture to ensure there is support.”
One of the speakers, MG Marketing import manager
Humphrey Lawrence, speaking from New Zealand, said he was happy to work with
the co-operative in developing heat treatment facilities for mangoes and pawpaw.
Farmer yields, crop profiles, rural and arable land
measurements, plus a framework based on data are also proposed with a timeframe
in the second quarter of 2023.
Through an interactive big screen launch, the group
illustrated preliminary feasibility studies for crops, and discussed the
benefits of co-operatives.
The group outlined its objectives with greater
leverage through agreement and unity, common standards, greater strength in
lobbying and raising the status of farming, better farm prices and better
A survey was given to attendees asking for farmer
details, areas under cultivation, locations, soil types, farm resources and