Solomon Islands entrepreneurs Jennifer and Doni Keli are the owners of Jedom Organic Fruits Limited, an organic dried fruit snack company. They will join a delegation of five Solomon Islands businesses attending Pacific Trade Invest (PTI) New Zealand’s Path to Market 5-day programme in New Zealand from 4-9 April. They will attend the one-day PTI NZ Path to the Pacific Trade Show on 6 April.

The business takes its name from the first parts of family members of the founder.  It was established in 2005 as a private enterprise with a social benefit for small farmers.

The couple wanted to provide income for themselves but also for fruit growers from remote areas of the Weather Coast, Guadalcanal.

In 2018, PTI NZ hosted a Path to Market workshop in Honiara. The response from the community was very positive. Jedom Organic Fruit Limited was one of five businesses selected to move onto the next step of the Path to Market five-day programme in Auckland. As part of the programme, Jedom Organics will showcase a range of dried fruit products at the Path to the Pacific Trade Show at The Cloud on April 6.

A case study on the company was produced for an FAO project under the EU AAACP programme. It was reported that fresh produce from the farms were not reaching markets due to transport, roading and infrastructure difficulties.

Due to its extreme topography, the with mountains over 2000 metres tall within 10kms of the coast there is a lack of infrastructure to connect the farmers to the markets in Honiara. For the more than 20,000 inhabitants in the area accessing markets for its fresh produce is a challenge. The region also has the lowest cash income range in the Solomon Islands with households often earning less than SBD$30 monthly. Youth who were still recovering from the ethnic tensions conflict of 1999-2003 were also part of the training programme at the Turusuala Community Based Training Centre (TCBTC) at Avuavu, a vocational training centre run by volunteers focused on agriculture.

Mrs Keli attended a series of food processing workshops run by Kastom Gaden Association (KGA) focused on practical methods of what could be made from readily available fresh produce. The workshops focused on turning local produce into less perishable and transportable products.

When the couple moved to Honiara, Mrs Keli put her workshop training into practice. She developed a range of processed products, from dried nuts, chips, fruits, muesli and chutney.

The business has grown over the years into a self-supporting cottage operation despite the challenges of getting a sustainable supplier network.

For more information email PTI NZ trade Development Manager Ian Furlong on ian.f@pacifictradeinvest.co.nz

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