Representatives of a Farmers Cooperative called Aniasuas-Mol Cooperative consisting of members representatives from Banana Bay, Eton, Teouma, Eratap, Port Vila and Rangrango are attending a weeklong Food Processing and Preservation Workshop at Club Hippique this week.
Organised through a Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement between ni Vanuatu rising farmer and entrepreneur Jack Loughman, 34, the Cooperative, Department of Trade and Cooperative and the Department of Food Standard Bureau, the participants are trained to process and value add about 20 different kinds of products and showcase them on location on April 24.
“The whole purpose of this training is to capture most of our local produce (root crops, fruits and more) when in session into Value Added Products”, the entrepreneur said.
“What we also intend on achieving through this training is to enable our farmers to be well coordinated on what to plant, for what purpose and what result is expected”.
Meanwhile the vision of Aniasuas-Mol Cooperative is to involve all farmers from right round Efate eventually.
Loughman added, “When I am at Port Vila Market, it pains me to see mothers struggle to sit three to four days in a row sun or rain and hot or cold, to sell their produce to put food on the table at the end of the day.
“Mothers are most valuable in the home and they should not leave the home to travel a long way to sit three or four days at the market to sell their produce”.
Instead Loughman says it is the responsibility of Aniasuas-Mol Cooperative to go and buy their produce at their doorsteps. “Mothers have a duty to contribute towards building up the early childhood of their children while they have an income to fund the education of their children”, he continued.
According to his observation, violence in the home and social issues arise due to the movement of people to find solutions to their struggles which invite other factors to come into play.
“For example rape case and child abuse arise because parents move away from their homes”, he suggested.
But the potential solution he sees is that as long as those mothers become members of Aniasuas-Mol Cooperative then the cooperative can buy their produce and they do not need to separate from their families at all.
The cooperative takes over the responsibility to purchase their produce then trade and market it for them. “So the idea of the workshop is to train the trainers who return with new knowledge and skills to train other members to contribute towards what Vanuatu needs to do, to prepare to meet its own challenges in the future the likes of the current Ambae disastrous volcanic ash fall and the category five Cyclone Pam in 2015", he said.
What the entrepreneur anticipates is that with sufficient supplies of local affordable processed foods and chilled fruits, the billions of Vatu the country spends on imported relief supplies to help victims of natural disasters, can be spent locally on more nutritious foodstuff and in turn inject most needed cash back into the national economy.