Queen of organic farming awarded global recognition
Ranadi Plantation Partnership, Fiji’s largest organic ginger farm, reigns supreme after winning a GlobalG.A.P (Good Agriculture Practice) Award for outstanding commitment to safe and sustainable agriculture. Ranadi means ‘queen’ in the Fijian, Itaukei language.
Jodi Smith receiving the award on behalf of Ranadi in Amsterdam
GlobalG.A.P. is an incentive for agricultural producers worldwide to adopt safe and sustainable practices for the production and marketing of safe foods for consumers and for the protection of scarce natural resources, and is a certification requirement of many major supermarkets around the world.
The Deuba-based 62 hectares farm, outside Suva, Fiji was one of only four globally recognised farms and was noted as having demonstrated outstanding results in the promotion of organic, sustainable and good agricultural practices in; in support of women in agriculture; as a centre for learning; in outreach and knowledge sharing; and in its commitment to the return to heritage farming techniques. It’s a feat that the Pacific Organic and Ethical Trade Community (POETCom) of the Pacific Community (SPC) has hailed as momentous for the region’s organic agriculture movement.
The Ranadi Plantation Team
SPC’s Land Resources Division Directo Inoke Ratukalou is particularly excited about the influence Ranadi’s achievement bears for Pacific women practicing farming and commercial agriculture.
“This is inspiring for women as an example that they can excel in commercial agriculture which is a male dominated economic activity in the Pacific,” Mr Ratukalou said.
“It is a well-deserved recognition for Jodi and the team at Ranadi!”
Seventy-five percent of employees at Ranadi are women including its Chief Operating Officer, Tupou Lakalaka.
“It’s a remarkable achievement projecting the efforts of Pacific island countries on the world map of sustainable agriculture and we are all proud of this achievement,” said POETCom Acting Coordinator, Stephen Hazelman said.
“The world-class effort Ranadi has shown with organics has inspired POETCom to trust them with rolling out the Participatory Guarantee System of organic certification for coconuts, ginger and turmeric in the Pacific.”
Ranadi excelled in promoting organic, sustainable and good agricultural practices in Fiji when it converted from chemical to an organic farm in 2013 and achieving a GlobalG.A.P certification means they are operating at an international standard with both their product and practices.
It is the only farm in Fiji to have achieved GlobalG.A.P certification. Ranadi has also attained organic certification through Australia Certified Organic (ACO), the United States Department of Agriculture National Organic (USDA NOP), the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) and Japan Agricultural Standard (JAS) programme.
It’s also a centre for learning becoming the first farm in Fiji to train other farmers in topics such as recycling and sustainable soil management.
Ranadi is also working with Fairtrade to set up Fiji’s first non-sugar Fairtrade and organic growers’ group – the Fiji Organic Producers’ Association.
Ranadi’s Chief Executive Officer, Jodi Smith, who is also the president of the Fiji Organics Association will collect the award later this month at the GlobalG.A.P Summit in Amsterdam to be attended by 49 countries.
When she joined Ranadi, a plantation that has been operating in Fiji for the past 50 years, Ms Smith had no formal agricultural experience.
She was determined though to convert Ranadi from a subsistence family farm into a trend-setting commercial unit specialising in growing, packing and export of organic ginger as well as empower women.
She’s also working with farmers in Wainunu, on Vanua Levu, Fiji’s second main island to supply Ranadi with organic ginger using a cooperative-based format of business, to be replicated in other parts of the country, which aims to ensure that growers make significant returns from their efforts by also benefitting from a percentage of the export price.
“By default I became a farmer, sales person and exporter, and learnt first-hand about the challenges of farming in and supplying from a developing country,” she said.
“Competition rather than cooperation is the guiding principle of most members in the value chain; the result is a disparate agricultural industry where growers, most of whom are subsistence farmers, have little opportunity to share knowledge, hone their skills and create consistent quality product.
“Growers make little return for their effort, and there are few if any arrangements or support mechanisms in place to ensure farmers get a fair deal.
“The free market is neither free nor fair for famers in developing countries. It is a race to the bottom in terms of price and I want to see that change,” Ms Smith said.