Mar 26, 2017 Last Updated 12:15 AM, Mar 15, 2017

Out of the shadows

Fashion emerges as new business

IN a span of 10 years, fashion has emerged as a growing new industry in Fiji. This is evidenced in the fact that Fiji Fashion Week (FJFW) celebrates its 10th anniversary this May with a gold theme representing not only glitz and glamour but compassion, courage and passion.

As managing director of FJFW, Ellen Whippy-Knight - who is likely to hand over the management at the end of this year - said that in the last 10 years, the Pacific had found something that they were good at doing. But, she warned, they needed a boost and further development. “I just think that over the last 10 years, we have created an industry, a platform for the government to understand that fashion is a business - an industry that has jobs for every single person who wants to be involved.

“If you think of what the suppliers do to make this industry work, you couldn’t have it done without the machinist, without the stylist, without the cotton, the needles, and basically, you wouldn’t be able to have a dress if you didn’t have the supplies, ” Whippy-Knight said.

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Out of the race

EXCLUSIVE Kepa wants support for Winston victims

FIJI’S OPPOSITION Leader, Ro Teimumu Kepa, is out of the 2018 Election race.  

That leaves the field clear for MajorGeneral Sitiveni Rabuka to lead SODELPA (the Social Democratic Liberal Party) to the polls as the main rival to the incumbent Prime Minister, RearAdmiral Frank Bainiaramama. Barring an upset, Fiji will have as prime minister between 2018 and 2022 an indigenous male who has, some time in his past, overthrown a democratically-elected government.

“I’ve made it quite clear that I will not stand,” Kepa said. “Under the Constitution, the Leader of the Opposition remains in office until a Prime Minister is sworn in. The Constitution also says I cannot cross the floor or change parties.” So Kepa will not join Hope where her allies – former Opposition Leader Mick Beddoes and political activist Pita Waqavonovono – have already set up shop.

For the time being she will continue to support efforts to attack the Bainimarama-led Fiji First Party in an attempt to whittle away at its popularity. Opinion polls show Bainimarama – who took power in a December 2006...

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At death’s door

How Winston killed a sugar mill

IT’S been a year since Tropical Cyclone Winston roared through Rakiraki in north-western Fiji leaving a trail of destruction and suffering in the small township.

While the recovery is slow, Winston has left one group of people in such a state that it’s breaking up families and taking an economic toll on Rakiraki’s future. The Penang sugar mill established in 1878 lies dead now. Winston caused extensive damage to the mill and its current owner, the Fiji Sugar Corporation, is yet to announce what will happen to the facility.

At the time of closure in February 2016, around 300 workers were employed at the mill. Now, close to two thirds of those employees have been moved to other mills or have resigned. Before Winston came and in order to save money, FSC was already talking about reducing operations at the Penang mill by turning it into a syrup factory.

“This is the corporation’s way of saving money for other investments and utilising our own assets to produce good quality sugar. The main reason we are going to produce only syrup at Penang mill is that instead of spending...

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THE successive natural disasters that impacted the Fiji Islands in the first months of 2017 are a clear signal of the future – greater climate unpredictability, persistent droughts and stronger cyclones, resulting in more complex and frequent humanitarian emergencies. Increasingly, complex and frequent disasters are confronting an existing humanitarian system of response that is not properly prepared to cope.

What is required is more transformative, gender-inclusive agenda for humanitarian response which will ensure the rights and specific needs of women and girls in all their diversities affected by natural disasters and humanitarian emergencies are addressed in national plans, strategies and responses - including disaster risk reduction policies. Additionally, women should not only be portrayed as victims of natural disasters and climate change. Rather, they are equal partners in designing strategies and agreements on how to tackle related issues.

As we reflect on the year since Sever Tropical Cyclone (TC) Winston, it is time for reaffirming women as first-responders. It is also a time for government to not just commit, but highlight how they will work with women’s civil society to meet the representation targets in decision making processes.

 

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THE European Union (EU) has supported several disaster response and recovery initiatives in Fiji in response to the devastation caused by Tropical Cyclone Winston, but one particular action has focused on recovery for commercial farmers and enterprises in the agriculture and aquaculture sectors. Under the Increasing Agriculture Commodity Trade (IACT) Project TC Winston Recovery Action, the European Union dedicated FJ$4.3 million to rebuilding the commercial productive sector, moving beyond the level of subsistence farming and informal trading.

The EU Delegation for the Pacific, Head of Cooperation, Mr. Christoph Wagner said: “In response to the destruction caused by TC Winston one year ago the European Union has been proud to play an important role in Fiji’s recovery process through a range of different initiatives.

The very practical support provided under the IACT project in key agricultural and aquaculture sectors, including fresh produce, coffee, cocoa, beekeeping and pearls, made an important difference, helping to get commercial farmers and communities back on their feet.

By restoring and strengthening disrupted value chains in the local agriculture and aquaculture industries, the project also contributed to building a more resilient future for businesses and local communities.” Focusing on sustainable and resilient recovery and not just response, support was directed at the repair and rebuilding of damaged infrastructure and operations, and priority was given to ensuring that assistance would enhance the strategic development of the sector.

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