Not Just a Sticker
The organic certified Manioc flour produced and marketed globally by Lapita Café of Vanuatu is more than just a product.
It is an inspiration and is used as a motivational tool for farmers to value their land says Lapita Café owner Voutasi Mckenzie.
‘It’s an awareness tool. Organic farming ensures sustainable production and having the Organic Pasifika sticker on the flour gives our consumers the certainty the product they are buying is truly natural and organic,’ she said.
‘In Vanuatu, we claim that our products are natural and organic because we largely don’t use chemicals in farming. The sticker gives our claim weight.
‘Since certification, our sales have boomed.
‘To share in the livelihood gains from the Manioc flour, our farmers know they must value and respect their land.
‘I think it’s important our people go back to the traditional way of farming where chemicals are not used and they take care of the land by using only organic materials like compost.
‘In many parts of the world, climate change is destroying things.
‘If we can give some economic benefits to the farmers while they take care of the land so that we can sustain our communities into the future that is the most important thing our product stands for.’
Manioc flour is made from the dehydrated roots of the manioc/cassava plant. Ten farmers have been organically certified under a Participatory Guarantee System, with the assistance of the SDG/UNDP supported Engaging Vanuatu Youths in Organic Farming Project – A Farm to Table Value Chains approach.
Its main marketing edge is that its gluten free.
‘Our farmers’ supply us from East Coast Santo, Tutupa, South Santo and more are interested in getting organic certification witnessing the direct livelihood benefits in terms of paying for educational needs and community development,’ Voutasi said.
‘We don’t want a situation in the future where people are landless on the land, meaning their land is unproductive because of unsustainable farming practices.
‘Though we have been largely natural farmers, times have changed and chemicals are coming in. In the supermarkets, we have a lot of inferior, food imports.
‘We now have a growing rate of non-communicable diseases.
‘Now with local organic certified products like manioc flour, consumers are becoming aware of their food choices. But more awareness is needed.’
Manioc floor is sold at the Lapita Café milling factory in Number 2 and in most of the large supermarkets of Port Vila.
It is mostly bought by the country’s expatriate community and is exported in many suitcases the world over.