Fairtrade ANZ is excited to announce the certification of the first ever Fairtrade ginger growing organisation in the Pacific - Wainunu Organic Growers Association (WOGA). Located a rough and tumbling three hours’ drive from Labasa, within Fiji’s fourth largest town, WOGA is made up of a membership of seventeen households.
WOGA’s story began with the vision of one ambitious ginger producer, Washington Simpson, who was determined to assist his community in securing a sustainable income. Washington decided to form an association with the help of The Earth Care Agency; a Fijian-based agricultural consultancy which assists growers and producers with certification and business readiness.
“The Wainunu Organic Growers Association is a farmer organisation in the province of Bua. The group formed to supply organic certified ginger and were certified against the Pacific Organic Standard (POS) in 2016 and have now also received Fairtrade certification” says Jodi Smith, Director of The Earth Care Agency.
WOGA member and mother of three, Rosy Simpson joined WOGA and began planting ginger three years ago to bring in extra income for her family.
“Planting ginger is hard work but I want to plant more because it provides a good price for my family” says Rosy.
This year Rosy expects a yield of 1.5 tonnes from her harvest, which she will be able to sell to export markets with the assistance of The Earth Care Agency and at the local markets.
Ginger is a labour-intensive crop: all farm work is done manually, from planting to weeding and harvesting. Clearing half an acre of land can take approximately two weeks. It is challenging, but everyone in the community works together to assist.
Unfortunately, the current increase in extreme weather events is a significant threat to ginger growers. As ginger is planted on mounds of earth, high rainfall and cyclones can easily wash away months of hard work and patience.
But this has not deterred the association who are determined to continue growing Fairtrade certified organic ginger for export to New Zealand, Australia and other nations as well as diversifying into other crops such as turmeric and yagona to continue to bring social, economic and environmental benefits to the WOGA community.