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Pearl livelihood development in Fiji

This project aims to maintain momentum in pearl shell handicraft enterprise development in Fiji through the interim period between the end of the ACIAR PARDI project and the start of the follow-on project FIS/2014/060.
ACIAR recognises pearls as a priority commodity, and has developed pearl culture in the western Pacific since 1993. The Fiji government intends to expand and diversify the cultured pearl industry. The ACIAR-PARDI pearl project, in collaboration with the Fiji Fisheries, established a national spat collection program involving 15 communities throughout Fiji. Most of these communities successfully collected oyster juveniles, financially benefiting partner communities and, for the first time, providing sufficient oysters for pearl farmers.
Spat collection improves oyster supply to pearl farmers, provides an opportunity for communities to enter the pearl culture industry, and increases the availability of pearl shells or mother-of-pearl that can support community income generating activities such as producing handicrafts. Community-based spat collection provides income for communities, and supports industry segmentation through engagement in small scale pearl farming and producing handicrafts.
Value-chain analysis conducted during the ACIAR-PARDI pearl project showed that Fiji imports around F$8.5 million worth of pearl handicraft items from Southeast Asian countries each year, targeting international tourists. Local production can replace imports, supported by improved local oyster supply. Local women can be trained to produce high quality pearl shell jewellery and handicraft items. Development of pearl shell based handicraft production requires enterprise development and research to identify and develop markets for products.
A new ACIAR project (FIS/2014/060) that began in July 2015 will develop pearl industry based livelihoods in Fiji .