FHTA, 12 August 2022 – Most people, including visitors to Denarau Island in Nadi, would never guess there was a thriving farm nearby. Post pandemic, establishing Agri-Tourism linkages in Fiji is important to reduce food costs for hotels and resorts whilst boosting Fiji’s food system that also affords guests an authentic culinary visitor experience through the integration of local fresh produce.
Nestled between the Heineken House and Denarau Golf Course lies an oasis of fresh Fijian produce that is evolving as it integrates organic farming techniques for herbs and vegetables followed by the tree planting initiative that will include Fiji’s native and fruit trees for a symbiotic ecosystem.
The Denarau Farm started in 2009 with just a half-acre of land that has now grown to a size of 5hectares and is managed by 4 dedicated staff. To cater for hotel demands across the Marriott International Fiji properties on Denarau Island, the farm is expected to produce more than 600kg – 700kg of fruits and vegetables and herbs.
The farm harvests seasonal produce including baby carrots, okra, chillies, tomatoes, cauliflower, guavas, pawpaw and pineapples, and employs its own experienced coconut tree climber to manage the 400 coconuts a week that are grown and subsequently enjoyed by guests of the resorts.
Plans are in place to install a permanent biogas system that can convert more than 20kg of organic waste producing more than 1,000 litres of gas to power the farm’s onsite BBQ for cooking and additionally, more than 20litres of dense rich liquid compost which provides nutrients to the herbs and vegetables grown on-site.
The initiatives show Marriott International Fiji Resorts’ dedication to reducing their carbon footprint, minimizing their reliance on imported produce, and living up to their culinary mantra of ‘Go Local’.
And they’re not alone in their efforts as many other resorts around the country have invested in the communities nearby or their own managed farms, with some investing in both.
In previous chef training initiatives, local chefs have been given the rare opportunity to train under Chef Colin Chung of “Kana Vinaka” cookbook fame using locally sourced produce from the surrounding areas. The learning experience always lifted confidence and skill levels. Many local chefs noted after the exposure, that it provided them with innovative perspectives on how local produce can be made so much more exciting from menu planning to deliver the dishes.
Farmers also got to see how their produce was integrated into the food supply chain whilst local chefs explored Fiji’s gastronomic delights that aren’t seen often enough around the country.
With the Ministries of Tourism and Agriculture also recognizing this potential, collaborations with industry stakeholders like the Fiji Hotel and Tourism Association (FHTA) and Tourism Fiji focusing on the wide variety of cuisine options is vital; Fiji should be able to position Food Tourism as another potential visitor experience that has wide-ranging opportunities for farmers, supply chains and hospitality workers.
Published in the Fiji Sun on 12 August 2022