As you approach the entrance of the Fiji Sofitel Resort and Spa, you can’t help but notice the huge eye-catching banner, which says – Pacific Community Agritourism: Glocalising Pacific Agri-Food through Tourism. And day one did exactly that. It kick started the Glocalising process.
Well, we didn’t delve into it straight away, no. What would a pioneering event be, without a little grandeur for memory and good old-fashioned tradition? And in the Pacific, we love our traditions. So to start things out, we had the host of the Pacific Way, someone most of the Pacific Islanders recognised. The impeccable Lenora.
She welcomed everyone in a room full of anticipation and hopes for what could this event mean? Was it worth traveling all the way from the North Pacific, Caribbean and even Europe for? Would this all work out? Uncertainties and nervousness. However, one thing was for certain, the room was filled with people who were committed to making things work and that’s all that matters I guess.
In the Pacific, we call it mana, it is the only reasonable explanation really, that the event would be aptly opened by leaders who are charged with on-the-ground responsibilities, as if it was preordained. The Secretariat of the Pacific Community’s Land Resources Division, Deputy Director for Agribusiness and Trade, Dr. Ken Cokanasiga and the Delegation for the European Union to the Pacific’s Head of Operations, Mr. Renato Mele. And with their blessings the event began.
A trip to the source
Covering the culinary event organised by the South Pacific Tourism Organisation (SPTO) was authentically eye-opening. Authentic because our guide, celebrity chef Colin Chung showed us how to check all this home and locally grown vegetables and root crops we’re surrounded with, for quality. Eye-opening because most chefs within the entourage weren’t aware that such produce was edible, while Colin showed us around and explained the possibilities.
Colin was definitely the right man for the job. I’ve never seen someone speak about watermelons, basil and cabbage with so much passion and flavour. It’s as if you could taste the dishes he described when he showed us the produce.
Experiencing the supply chain
On the excursion, we met real people that represented Pacific agribusiness. Girls like Ashleen Prasad from Farm Boy who helps her father manage their middle-man business that’s grown quite remarkably, providing work to some 30 to 40 people in the process. Women like Remivani Navurewa, who sells homegrown cabbages and bananas at the local market. And we were pleasantly surprised to meet Pritam Singh, a market vendor who sells, locally grown purple cabbage, pok choy and basil. The very essence of this week – glocaling. Pritam posed next to the cabbages and held the pok choy proudly. His thoughts during this moment, we didn’t know but what we did know, was that we had found an example of someone along the supply chain that’s contributing to the Glocalising process.
Our entourage was of chefs from top resorts in Fiji, Solomon Islands, Cook Islands and Kiribati; and as we made our way through the Farm Boy Storehouse, Lautoka Market, Fiji Meats and Nadi Bay Herbs farm, exchange of contact details among the chefs and vendors began. It was humbling to witness the fruit of the efforts of multiple international organisations who put this week together, start to take form. I emphasise ‘start’. That may not be such a significant point of action for some. Maybe that exchange would be put into action the following day when Colin whips us incredible dishes that wows the entourage. But until day two happens, this was a great platform for the rest of the week to foray into the fields of possibilities.
Blogpost by Solomoni Matthewsella, Social Reporter for the Pacific Community AgriTourism Week 2015.