I confirm that I am fully aware of the eligibility criteria and terms of the Act for Biodiversity Challenge and that I am eligible to apply.
I am 18 years old or older.
Initiative's representative name
Jodi Smith, Director of the Earth Care Agency.
Initiative's representative gender
Headquarters location: country
Headquarters location: city
Where are you making a difference?
The proposed intervention will work closely with community farmers and producers on Batiki Island, Fiji; Tomaniivi District, Fiji; and Tokaimalo District, Fiji.
Website or social media url(s)
Growth (have moved past the very first activities; working toward the next level of expansion)
Yearly Budget : What is your current yearly budget for the initiative?
€10k - €50k
1. Founding story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that led the founder(s) to get started or the story of how you saw the potential for this project to succeed.
TECA has been supporting the Bula Batiki Association, which produces hand made virgin coconut oil (VCO) on the remote Fijian island of Batiki -- the first community-owned island in Fiji to achieve USDA NOP and Organic EU certification. The business began when women from one of the four island villages were given a coconut press, and has now grown into a 90-strong group of husband and wife producers. Bula Batiki provides a great example of how husbands and wives can be equal decision makers, and how women can share leadership roles in the world of agriculture. Building on this model, TECA aims to partner with Conservation International (CI) and additional communities on Viti Levu to produce surfboard wax from locally harvested bees wax.
2. The problem: What problem are you helping to solve?
Communities in Fiji are among the most climate vulnerable on earth, faced with increasing sea levels, ocean warming, and natural disasters. Climate impacts contribute to natural resources degradation, upon which island communities depend. Resource degradation is further exacerbated by expansion of unsustainable agriculture, grounded in a need to increase household income. We need new solutions to preserve ecosystems, expand sustainable agriculture and strengthen market access for communities.
3. Your solution: How are you working to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.
To date, TECA has provided the following incubation services to Bula Batiki Association: (i) documenting and bringing up to international standards the group’s VCO production; (ii) creating a food control system plan for ISO 22000 (currently being reviewed by the certification body); (iii) development of an internal control system for organic certification, and achievement of USDA NOP and Organic EU certification for the entire island and its VCO and coconuts.
Building from this platform, TECA will partner with Conservation International (CI) to expand efforts to two additional districts on Fiji's main island of Viti Levu -- Tomaniivi and Tokaimalo -- focused on development of honey-based surfboard wax products. Each district has an established community-based honey cooperative that is formally registered. TECA and CI will work with communities in all three project sites to: (i) expand the Bula Batiki product line to include honey-based products; (ii) strengthen business administration capacity and transition from being a registered Association to a Limited Liability Company, (iii) construct dedicated processing facility on Viti Levu, with co-financing from the Government.
4. Innovation: How are you innovating or using unique approaches to solve the problem?
Community livelihoods are a core pillar and integral component of successful community development and adaptation. To date, livelihoods interventions in the Pacific have been either small-scale (focused on local or sub-national markets), or unsustainable, with community businesses collapsing when donor or project funding ends. These livelihoods interventions have lacked sufficient and effective engagement with the private sector on the selection (and scaling) of livelihoods options with communities. This project bridges this gap by working directly with private sector to increase community market access and improve livelihoods, as well as provide technical support to communities on production and certification.
5. Collaboration: How does your initiative seek to bring key players together to preserve biodiversity?
This consortium initiative will be lead by TECA in partnership with CI, and in close collaboration with the market, government extension officers and community producers. TECA will provide overarching technical guidance and support for production of surfboard wax from bees wax, marking and branding, certification and exportation of goods. CI will provide technical guidance on agroforestry approaches and beekeeping, and serve as the focal point for communities in Tokaimalo and Tomaniivi Districts, where they have been working for 10 and 5 years respectively. The project will also apply best practices for community engagement, building partnerships between communities and private sector, as well as incubating community associations towards production and sale of value-added honey-based goods. Finally, TECA will serve as the liaison between community producers and the market, to enhance the sale of these goods for community livelihoods benefit.
6. Impact: how has your project made a difference so far — in terms of both business outputs and social impact? How do you plan on measuring progress?
Bula Batiki is collective made up of the villagers of Batiki’s four settlements: Mua, Yavu, Manuku, and Naigani. It is a 100% community-owned initiative that was founded in order to bring to market their organic coconut oil. Funding raised through the sale of Bula Batiki products support the villagers who live and work on the island. Any profits earned from the coconut oil are invested back into its slowly expanding family of staff members by ensuring they are paid honest and fair wages. Since 2016, TECA has supported Bula Batiki to rebuild the business after the devastation of cyclone Winston in Februay 2016, specifically to achieve USDA NOP, EU Organic and ISO 22000 Certification. On Viti Levu, CI has been working closely with communities in Tomaniivi and Tokaimalo Districts to train communities on honey production and organics, and formally establish two community honey cooperatives. Honey is currently harvested every 3 months and supporting local income.
7. Growth strategies: what are your main strategies for scaling your impact?
The key strategy for growth under this initiative is to develop production of beeswax surfboard wax under the Bula Batiki brand. After Cycle Winston in 2016, many of the coconut trees on Batiki Island were destroyed, damaging and reducing their production capacity. TECA and CI will address this gap by building local capacity for production of honey-based wax products on Batiki Island, as well as expand beeswax production to include honey cooperatives within the districts of Tomaniivi and Tokaimalo. This will exponentially expand the production capacity, and increase the number of community beneficiaries in Fiji. TECA will also seek new marketing and sale partnerships to increase availability of Bula Batiki products in New Zealand and Japan.
8. Creating shared value: How does your initiative create value for society? Or different stakeholders?
TECA is strongly invested in improving human well-being and creating shared value for local communities and stakeholders in Fiji. In particular, investments under this initiative will focus on strengthening women's participation and capacity to produce value-added honey products, largely surfboard wax made from bees wax. This economic empowerment strategy aims to address systemic issues if gender-based violence (GBV) in Fiji that have deep social and cultural roots, and can be destructive to sustainable natural resource management. Diversifying income generating opportunities for women has been proven to strengthen financial inclusion of women, while contributing to household income.
9. Financial sustainability plan: can you tell us about your plan to fund your project and how that plan will be sustainable in the short, medium, and long term?
This project will achieve sustainability by building economic economic resilience of communities, through the production of honey-based surf-board wax. As most communities have limited understanding of the market, and limited resources to improve market access, the TECA and CI will play a vital role in identifying markets and providing training to facilitate new economic pathways that boost resilience. Through these interventions, CI and TECA will transform the disruptive business model of unsustainable agriculture and vulnerability, TECA and CI will work with communities to improve production capacity and facilities, strengthen market access, and boost community livelihoods and resilience to achieve sustainable change.
10. Team: what is the current composition of your current team (types of roles, qualifications, full-time vs. part-time, board members, etc.), and how do you plan to evolve the team’s composition as the project grows?
Jodi Smith is the Director of TECA and will be the overarching project lead. She has a background in organic agriculture, operational systems and capacity building for the developing world agricultural and agri-business sector. Susana Tuisese will be the project focal point for CI, with a background in Forestry and Natural Resources Economics, grounded in indigenous community development in Fiji. The project will engage additional team members from CI and communities as helpful.
11. How did you hear about this challenge?
Recommended by others
Ashoka page or contact
Word of mouth
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