Cassava export sets to roll

Varivao’s first shipment Oct 24

Varivao Holdings Ltd has made another achievement in its business endeavour as it prepares to export its first consignment of cassava to Australia this month.

The first shipment will be made on October 24.

Since last week the company has been busy buying yellow cassava from farmers in and around Honiara as well as from Guadalcanal communities.

Varivao is not new to exporting local crops. It has previously exported coffee and kava.

“This is the first container to be exported to Australia,” Vinay Reddy from the South Pacific Asian Foods Pty, based in Australia, said.

 “So roughly we will be buying about 23-24 tonnes of cassava from the farmers,” Reddy added.

He said they are expecting to buy a tonne per day, adding they are planning to take three containers every three months for a start.

“I must encourage farmers to plant more cassava and also farmers need to go commercial, that is to plant big gardens because we are coming to buy your cassava,” he said.

Meanwhile, the company’s General Manager Duddley Longamei said with the first export on 24th of this month, it’s a big achievement not only for his company but also for the country.

“Yes, this first container is a very big step forward for the country and for the company itself,” Lonamei said.

 “It’s a big achievement and since it’s the first one, I think that is a breakthrough for the country,” he added.

“It will definitely create a huge opportunity for the country

“And farmers must be encouraged and it would be good if the government support our farmers.”

Longamei added it’s good we have substitutional crops with rice.

“We must make use of the resources and whatever support government gives us.”

He said since the market opportunity is now open up, more women and young people must be encouraged to involve in cassava farming.

“It’s not good to see young people wasting their time roaming the town doing nothing.

“We have lots of land around and people should involve in farming,” he said.

“After the first export we will just work on what would be next in terms of pricing, facilities, and requirements,” he said.

He said for a start they buy at $2.50 per kilo from farmers, adding if they get a positive feedback from the first export they will make a good price to attract farmers.

Longamei said Varivao is ready and looking forward for the first shipment in two weeks.

 “Yes, for Varivao Holdings Ltd, we are already preparing and looking forward for the first export.

“We have already into this kind of export business for a long time now so we have the experience and confidence to meet the food standard processing and safety.

 “We have the food processing channels here; we start with receiving, peeling, washing, treatment and the good packaging and then go to the freezer.

 “Also, we must be careful because Australia is a strict country when it comes to biosecurity requirements and we really need to meet those requirements and must ensure we met the safety standard first,” he said.

Longamei said the new venture will help a lot of women to safe time, market fees and transport cost since they will provide them with transport to pick up their cassavas.

“I think in terms of supporting the women and farmers from wasting their times standing under the hot sun and all this, we hope this will ease their burdens and avoid them from buying market fees and also save their money from hiring transport to the market.”

Asked if the company will extend its services to buy from other farmers out in the provinces, Longamei said plans are under way to set up buying agents at the provincial centres but for a start they will concentrate on farmers in Honiara and around Guadalcanal.

“Yes we have a future plan to buy cassava from the provinces.

“We are starting to talk about that with some shipping companies if they can install cool rooms in their ships where they can store the cassava when they pick them up from the provinces.

 “We are also proposing to set up factories agent (cool room) in the provincial capitals and we can just buy from farmers there. It’s not that hard but we have to start somewhere.

“Like one factory agent in Auki, Buala, Lata maybe like that and then to the other provinces.

“Also we have started talks with Vaka Solomon to ensure they got the facilities so that when those things go on it will help the provincial people to involve in the industry,” he said.

The company started buying cassava since last week from farmers at Tetere, Gilbert camp area, and North West Guadalcanal.

“At the moment the supply was really good and farmers start to come in numbers to sell their cassavas.

“We will continue to buy next week therefore we encourage farmers to come and sell their cassavas. So I would also like to encourage farmers to start making big cassava gardens.

“We will need your input in this new venture,” Longamei said.

By STEPHEN DIISANGO

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