ISSN: 0041-3216 (Online), 0041-3216 (Print)
Volume 75 Number 1
Assessment of the nutritional value and competitiveness of traditional foods in South Pacific economies: A case study of root crops in Fiji. (106)
The consumption of traditional food crops, dominated by root crops, has been either stagnating or in decline in South Pacific countries. Governments have attempted to reverse this trend through strategies that highlight the importance and health benefits of such crops, but with little success. Inadequate knowledge by policy makers of the major causes of the trend is argued to be an important factor contributing to this lack of success. The most important obstacles to developing traditional food crop industries are identified by examining factors influencing the supply and demand of taro and other root crops in Fiji. On the supply side, attention is given to the constraints on production, storage, processing, transport, and marketing. On the demand side, the focus is on various economic, social, and cultural factors identified as the chief determinants of consumption decisions. Suggestions are made for the development of a strategy to improve the competitiveness of root crops in relation to imported foods (especially rice and flour), that is more effective than current strategies. Policies are suggested to underpin this strategy, with particular emphasis on the encouragement of productivity gains in production and post-harvest activities. Any strategy to make food industries more competitive in domestic food markets will require an improved understanding of the factors changing tastes and preferences of domestic consumers. Marketing research programmes for root crops are needed, but will require government support.
Keywords: Fiji; Nutrition; Research; Root crops