An innovative investment appraisal tool called ‘Cigar Box’ was recently introduced to 50 participants at a week-long workshop conducted by the Fiji Crop and Livestock Council (FCLC).
Supported by the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) Netherlands, and the Fiji Government through the Ministry of Agriculture (MOA), the workshop was held in Suva.
FCLC Chairman, Simon Cole, said that as farmers are not usually record keepers, it is difficult to gather accurate data that could assist them in their business.
“The Cigar Box model really starts to improve our analysis of agriculture as it analyses the value chain, from the farmer to the processor, to the exporter and to the retailer,” said Mr Cole.
Agricultural Economist, Olivier van Lieshout, from the Netherlands, is the inventor of the Cigar Box tool. He was in Fiji to specially train master trainers on its specifics, through FCLC, and he was also the workshop’s key facilitator.
Mr Lieshout said he developed the Cigar Box tool because of the need to know exactly where the bottlenecks are in the value chain.
“I called it the Cigar Box because a person should be able to make all his/her important business decisions with calculations written on a 10 by 10 size box, which ultimately, give a farmer a bankable proposal,” Mr Lieshout said.
“If you need more space, already you don’t know what you are doing. If you’re unable to concentrate on the most important points, and you need more space to write down and convince people that your business is viable, then you’re already wrong,” he said.
The Permanent Secretary for Agriculture, Ritesh Dass, said in his opening address that value chain and market development, together with contract farming are important components of the public private producer partnership (4Ps).
“For farmers, I would like to emphasise the importance of collecting, recording, and analysing data, improving financial literacy, preparing business plans, climate-smart farming practices and sustainable land management,” Mr Dass said.
The participants included commodity association leaders, and representatives from financial institutions, non-government agencies, and MOA.