How Passion for Health Contributes to Livelihood and Sustainable Farming Practices

Susan Murat is an American entrepreneur working in partnership with Fiji national Joe Taoi to provide certified organic turmeric to US markets for health benefits. Together they run Fiji Joe Turmeric and Blakeview Organic Turmeric Processing. Fiji Joe Turmeric and Blakeview Organic Turmeric Processing are both POETCom members with approvals to use the Organic Pasifika certification mark on their products. POETCom programme is part of the Land Resources Division of the Pacific Community.

Susan’s work in organic agriculture began with her passion for turmeric, its medicinal benefits and a yearning to share this with the world. Having no prior experience did not stop her from chasing her dream when she started Fiji Joe Turmeric a few years before meeting her business partner in Fiji, Joe Taoi. She learned on the job and has since begun exporting organically certified turmeric to US markets.

When asked on what she thinks communities and their leaders can better support women in agriculture, she says, “As in every group situation, leaders emerge, and these women ought to receive training so that THEY can lead and encourage their own communities.”

“We must recognise the value of what women bring to the table,” says Susan  “These are your mothers, sisters and daughters – but that’s not all! In addition to intelligence, women possess intuition, kindness, creativity and compassion. These qualities are vital components of well-rounded and balanced communities and businesses.”  Susan feels strongly that we must educate, encourage and support the women we know to become involved in the careers of their choice, and that we should be proud of of them instead of feeling threatened by their successes.  “To do otherwise is to deny your communities, homes, and businesses the ability to reach their full potential. I encourage women to support one another, stay focused and keep going.  Fiji’s gold is in its organic agriculture, and women have what it takes to lead the way.”

Susan buys organic turmeric from independent farmers and her business partner’s farm. She also collaborated with her partner to create Blakeview Organic Turmeric Processing – a unit that washes, slices and dries the turmeric before export.  It is then ground into powder and packaged in the U.S. Susan looks forward to working with more villages this year through the Foundation for Rural Integrated Enterprises and Development, FRIEND Fiji.