“The story of food is the story of people. Story-telling is what makes a successful menu” – Robert Oliver; and this story starts from the Ocean. We, in the Pacific Island countries, are surrounded by a mass body of water called the Pacific Ocean. Through this ocean, we islanders are connected. The ocean is one main source of food for islanders. Fishing is a home-developed skill which enable islanders to obtain free food for the family – from deep sea fishing to reef fishing. In this new era, fishermen are adapting to changes, rather than going through all the trouble to chase after the fishes. Fish can be found right behind their own backyard.
New era, new ideas
Modern education and modern technologies play a big part in our everyday life by making things easier, faster and better. Taking farmers to the next level is the new trend now. With access to the right tools, farmers are able to farm crabs, lobsters and many other available marine life resources. It provides a wide range of opportunities for farmers and also getting them to the markets. Starting from local-scale production to national scale, and if successful with good marketing strategies, seafood can now be supplied to global scales. This is a strategy being used by many farmers now to drive the national economy of the country.
Overcoming marketing barriers
Do tourists really travel to the islands to eat lobsters? It may be hard to believe but they certainly do. Lobsters and crabs are without doubt a delicacy for many luxury resorts in the Pacific islands. The demand of tourists for local seafood cuisines is very high.
At the moment, Pacific marine farmers are still at a small-scale production; Fiji Fresh Seafood and The Crab Company – Fiji to name a few. Fiji Fresh Seafood with a catchy logo “You’re gonna love this” is a small-scale operating business that has recently been established in 2014 by an inspiring fisherman, Mr.Ronnie Hyer from the United States. The main constraint of the business is trying to meet markets’ and hotels’ demands for fresh, localseafood. The crab company on the other hand is working on a strategy to supply the local markets and hotels first before going international, mainly due to the low supply of the commodity.
Looking for a brighter future
Crab farming is taking the next step to farming premium grade crabs for local hotels, in preparations to go international. The company is also looking at practicing “poly culture”, which is farming prawns and crabs together. This is because tourists’ demand for crabs and prawns is very high. This puts emphasis on hoteliers because prawns are highly imported products from overseas. And now having to farm them locally, it will be more convenient for hotel owners to get access to both crabs and prawns in the local markets.
Photo credit: Thai National Parks
Blogpost by Tom Vaha, Social Reporter for the Pacific Community AgriTourism Week 2015.