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Introduction

This extract provides a brief and update on development programmes on Rotuma Island coordinated by and facilitated through the Rotuma Affairs Unit of the Prime Minister’s Office.

The extract also deals with the Bio-security programme to facilitate bilateral trade between Rotuma and Tuvalu and updates on the Agriculture and Fisheries programme to sustain food safety and security for the people of Rotuma. 

Location

Rotuma lies about 528km North of Fiji. It is situated close to the meeting point of the conventional boundaries assigned to the Polynesian, Melanesian and Micronesian peoples.

Rotuma and the off-shore were divided into seven “itu’tiu or districts. They were the formal geographical areas of social and political importance. The districts are Noatau, Oinafa, Itu’tiu, Malha’a, Juju, Pepjei and Itu’muta. The island is about 14.4km long and 4.8km wide at its widest, it narrows to an isthmus 200 meters across with connect two main parts of the island. The land area is 4,387 hectares. There are a number of off-shore islands, none of them is permanently inhabited. 

ROTUMA_MAP

Background

Rotuma Island economy is agro-based, small in size and vulnerable to any slight biosecurity and environmental impact.

Resource based development is the KEY to economic growth for Rotuma and its people.  Biosecurity, Agriculture and Fisheries Development programmes for Rotuma is very important in sustaining the islands economic survival and social stability.  The Biosecurity, Agriculture and Fisheries programmes for Rotuma to facilitate trade with Tuvalu and sustain food safety and security for the people of Rotuma is a component of the Rotuma Island Development programme established through Cabinet Decision No. 135 of 08/03/08.

The declaration of Rotuma as an international port of entry will assist in:

  • The facilitation of trade with Tuvalu and other regional countries; and
  • The general socio-economic development of the island in other areas besides agriculture and fishing, like tourism and other small business venture.

The Biosecurity, Agriculture and Fisheries components in the Rotuma Island Development programme is focused on several specific projects which includes:

Working in collaboration with the Secretariat for the pacific Community (SPC) to facilitate the export of agricultural produce from Rotuma to Tuvalu and develop biosecurity strategies for Rotuma to minimize the impact of pests on agriculture production and the environment.

Purchasing and install a High Temperature Force Air (HTFA) plant in Rotuma to facilitate trade of fruits and vegetables to Tuvalu and Viti Levu markets. Facilitate export of agricultural produce from Rotuma to Tuvalu in compliance with international and domestic legislations and standards.

Carry out awareness and educational programmes on development and biosecurity threats to Rotuma, focusing on sustaining food safety and food security. Providing border biosecurity at the Rotuma International Air and Sea ports of entry. Develop and promote small holder livestock farming and other small economic programmes in Rotuma including marine based resources.  Work towards declaring Rotuma as an organic island.  Install an ice plaint in Rotuma and initiate Fisheries Programme to support initiative on Marine Based Resources (MBR) Programmes. 

Benefits

The benefit from the whole capital and other infrastructure development on the Biosecurity, Agriculture and Fisheries programme for Rotuma will be realized in the form of:

  • Foreign earnings from the export trade with Tuvalu and other Small Island States (SIS) in the Region;
  • Creation of employment as a result of the trade with Tuvalu and other island nations in the Region;
  • Improved living standards in Rotuma thus reduction in poverty and will also minimize the migration of Rotuman’s from the island to Viti Levu and hopefully those who are struggling to survive in Viti Levu return to Rotuma;
  • Minimize the dependency of the Rotuma island Council on Government for funding of the islands future development programmes; and
  • Promote sustainable resource development as against exploitation of resource development.

And community on the island will also enjoy better access and ultimately improved infrastructures and public utilities.
The export of fresh root crops, fruits and vegetables to Tuvalu and locally will improve the diet and health of the Tuvaluan population. It is to be noted that approximately 15 tonnes of dalo has been exported to Fiji at an average of 5 tonnes per month worth $15,000.00.

Copy_of_Oinafa_Warf 

Progress and Achievements

The Rotuma Development Taskforce in collaboration with the Secretariat for the Pacific Community (SPC) have achieved the following tasks:

Carried out a fact finding mission to Tuvalu to survey the Tuvaluan market potential and requirements;

  • Firmed up with the Tuvaluan Authorities that trade with Rotuma will result in a “Win/Win” situation;
  • Carrying out of pest surveys in Rotuma and Tuvalu;
  • Assisted in Fiji Biosecurity to develop market access submissions for Rotuma’s dalo, cassava and kumala to the Tuvalu Quarantine Authority;
  • Assisting the Tuvalu Quarantine Authority to carry out Import Risk Analysis (IRA) on the Rotuma market access submission.
  • Formally requested the Tuvaluan Quarantine Authority to access leafy vegetables, fruits and husked coconuts into Tuvalu;
  • The progress on the High Temperature Forced Air (HTFA) programme for Rotuma (with a budget allocation of $350,000) include;
  • Obtained the Major Tender Board approval to purchase the HTFA chamber from the Quarantine Technologies International, NZ (QTI) and installation at Rotuma for a total cost of FJ$188,211.55;
  • Obtained the granting of concessionary rates for free – fiscal, free import and 12.5% vat payable on the importation of the HTFA Plant for Rotuma.
  • The contract to purchase the HTFA has been signed by the Minister for Primary Industries and Director – General of QTI (NZ) (the supplier) on 16th June, 2009 and the first payment, has been made;
  • Finalize the plan, costing and work schedule on the HTFA shed for Rotuma with PWD, with a total costing of $429,830 to be constructed by PWD in 12 weeks beginning in November/December, 2009.

Schedule to install the HTFA plant in Rotuma in December/January, 2011.
The progress on the facilitation of export of dalo, cassava and kumala to Tuvalu, the Taskforce acknowledges the Ministries and Departments for their contributions:

The Rotuma Development Taskforce in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture and Primary Industries has established a Technical Working Committee comprising of Extension, Fisheries, Research, Animal Health & Production and Biosecurity Services to coordinate and monitor the implementation of export facilitation, food safety and food security programmes for Rotuma.

Exporters and Farmers training and awareness programmes are an on-going development programme for Rotuma carried out by the Ministry officials – (a total of 3 Training/Workshops for the 400 farmers on the island has been carried out) and will continue as an on-going programme.

An extension officer (ATO) is now at Rotuma whereas the Biosecurity Officer (ATO) has also been posted in April 2010 when the construction of the staff quarters is completed together with 5 tonnes vehicle to be used for transportation of commodities from the farm to the packing shed thus to Oinafa Wharf.

Apart from the above, other key issues raised and endorsed by Cabinet are detailed below. 

Declaration Of Archipelagic Reserve/Fishing Ground

With the proposal to declare 30 miles as an Archipelagoes reserve ground for Rotuma, a baseline survey have been conducted, initiated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Declaration to be made once the outcome of the negotiation is received. 

Offshore Fishing License

Two offshore Fishing Licenses are being reserved for the Council of Rotuma and negotiation is being conducted by the Council’s Think Tank with a new partner. Alternatively, proposal to put the two licenses in the open category with a partner to be identified is still being pursued. 

Upgrade Of Seaport Infrastructure

An allocation of $1.6million has been allocated by the Prime Minister in 2009 under the upgrading of Seaport Infrastructure Tax Free Port Development has been released to the Ministry of Works and Transport and work has commenced at the Oinafa Wharf for the construction of ablution blocks, linking of power from Ahau to the Airport and water supplies upgrading from Oinafa junctions and upgrading of power at Oinafa Wharf, fencing of the Jetty with approximately 50 metres and a common gate to control inward and outward bound passengers and goods.

Upgrade Of Airstrip

Tender is being re-advertised due to non-availability of a Rotuma Airport Engineering design for concrete pavement runaway. Construction would be in 3 phases and work is expected to start in June 2010 once the tender is finalized. Total estimated cost for the upgrading work is $15.9million.

A design and built proposal under a PPP arrangement is another option which Cabinet has also approved, however funds are being awaited.

Upgrading Of Roads Around The Island

An allocation of $250,000 was utilized for the road upgrading programmes which have been successfully completed. Periodic maintenance will continue from time to time as part of Ministry of Works programme on annual basis.

Relocation Of PWD Depot

Relocation works had started at a cost of $450,000 and relocation should be completed before the year ends. Relocation costs involved the procurement of the land required survey, leveling of site, construction of a Depot an office space and two quarters and payment of premium to landowners.

Upgrading Of Water Supply

Procurement of two generators’ have been made and installed on the two sites. Other upgrading programme includes the following:

  • Additional Borehole connections and laying of 171 x 80mm pipes and connected to the extra borehole.
  • Connection of water supply system to the proposed HTFA Treatment Plant.
  • Construction of a 10,000 gallon of water tank at Penluhu Reservoir.
    The total cost of upgrading is $204,000.00.

Rotuma/Tuvalu Trade

Construction of the processing and grading shed by the RFMF Engineers have been completed.