Training enhances Agri-tourism in the Suncoast region
Close to 30 participants were awarded certificates, after completing a 5-day Contemporary Island Cuisine training held at Dreamview Villas, Rakiraki.
The week-long workshop was a joint initiative between the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism and the Ministry of Agriculture, in partnership with the Pacific Island Resorts Consultants (PIRC) with operators in the Suncoast.
Participants from resorts, hotels and restaurants within the region and women who are actively involved in tourism activities in the villages of Navai, Nabalasere, Nubutautau and Naga, were thrilled with the new learnings by trainers, renowned Chef Colin Chung and PIRC Consultant Greg Cornwall. They learnt innovative menus and presentation techniques, using local produce from around the region.
A training participant Losalini Vunibola said the training had taught her the importance of growing produce locally.
“I have learnt to appreciate local produce more and how to utilise them instead of buying expensive ingredients from the supermarket” said Ms. Vunibola.
Another participant Mere Tuilobe said what she had learnt over the 5-days training, has been an eye-opening experience.
“I have broadened my knowledge on how to prepare local produce in many different ways and I am so grateful to be part of this training,” said Ms. Tuilobe.
Chef Colin Chung was delighted to be able to share his knowledge and skills with the participants. He added that, although extra energy was put into this training compared to the first two trainings in 2016 and 2018, it was worthwhile.
“There was a good representation from the Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) sector and women from the highlands of Ra and they all come with a great range of experience. This is the biggest training we have conducted so far”.
“Overall, the training was a success and everyone shared their knowledge and experience in food preparations. It was encouraging to see the information sharing amongst the participants, from vegetarian dishes to stove-top cooking. Now it’s time for participants to apply what they have learnt,” said Chef Chung.
Consultant Greg Cornwall acknowledged the enthusiasm shown by the women from the highlands of Ra, who learnt to improve their catering services, especially for their visitors who travel through the Talanoa Treks.
“They have also learnt to grow off season fruits and vegetables to supply hotels in the Rakiraki region. Each village was provided with climbing spinach seedlings and encouraged to link with the Ministry of Agriculture to develop their farms further,” said Mr. Cornwall.
On the second day, the participants prepared vegetarian dishes for the Broadreach Group from the United States. This gave the trainees the opportunity to set a table and serve international visitors.
In ensuring that the training contributed to the local community, the fresh produce was purchased from the Rakiraki market and villages the participants were from.
According to the PIRC trainers, the training would not have been possible without the support of Goodman Fielder/Crest, Fiji Meats, Fiji Gas, Paradise Seafood, Fiji Chemicals and Fiji Coffee towards the week-long training which contributed immensely to its success.
In addition, PIRC bought cooking equipment to conduct the Suncoast training and future trainings have been proposed for other regions in Fiji.
Chief Economist of the Ministry of Agriculture, Ms Sera Bose presented the certificates to the participants.