Big Opportunities for Small-Scale Producers in Vanuatu
The Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development (Pacific Women) program supports women’s economic empowerment in Vanuatu through a range of partners. One locally-led initiative is the Alternative Communities Trade in Vanuatu (ACTIV) project which is strengthening trade opportunities for community-produced products.
ACTIV supports the social, economic and environmental empowerment of small producers. It also provides targeted assistance to marginalised ni-Vanuatu communities through fair trade initiatives. The association works with economically disadvantaged or marginalised individuals, family businesses and cooperatives.
ACTIV’s activities promote access to both local and international markets for small-scale producers who have not historically had such opportunities.
With Pacific Women support, ACTIV has delivered training to women’s groups on developing small-scale agriculture production. The women learn agricultural techniques to produce spices, nuts and fruit to diversify their income. The training also instructs women on related processing techniques, such as turning fruit into jam.
Two women from Efate have taken a strong interest in the cocoa plant grafting techniques that they learned through the ACTIV training. They continue to visit the ACTIV Centre on a weekly basis to improve their grafting practices and plan to build a commercial nursery to use these new skills.
ACTIV has recognised that the local market in Vanuatu is narrow and the tourist market can be volatile. It is, therefore, exploring ways to support the export of agricultural products. It launched a new logo and branding for its ‘AELAN Made in Vanuatu’ products and, since March 2018, the products have been stocked in Oxfam’s shops in Australia.
Recipes for crystallised ginger, crystallised turmeric and coconut flakes were developed with assistance from an Australian volunteer chocolate maker. The techniques were then taught to a woman from Etas who is producing them for the AELAN label. The project has taught other women to produce coconut jam, desiccated coconut, coconut milk and coconut flour.