Pandemic sparks increased co-op activity in Fiji

Trade minister Faiyaz Koya said the co-op model is well suited to sustainable development and marine conservation

Fiji’s Ministry of Commerce, Trade, Tourism and Transport says it received 80 applications to register co-ops at the height of the Covid-19 crisis.

The upswing, which came as the pandemic brought job losses, forcing people back to their villages to farm, saw weekly registrations to the Department of Co-operative Business, the Fiji Times reported from the Fiji Seascape Symposium.

Speaking at the marine conservation event was trade minister Faiyaz Koya, who praised its emphasis on the co-op model as a vehicle for initiatives that protect the ocean and its resources.

As a grassroots solution, which sees communities pool resources to build a business, co-ops are well suited to this task, he added, and his department “arms co-operatives with the necessary resources that ensure long term sustainability. We train – we support – we guide.

“This business model has been essential in the development of our rural communities. Why – because of its inclusiveness and member driven principles.”

Mr Koya said his department continues to monitor co-ops and provide relevant support where needed, and has just conducted a three-week tour of islands in the Lau group, visiting at least 23 of the 29 operating co-ops in the area to provide business advice and training.

These co-ops work mainly in the wholesale and retail sector, supplying goods to the remote islands, but are now considering diversifying into fishing, agriculture, banking and value addition.

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