For Pacific Island countries such as Fiji, Vanuatu and Samoa, rural industries remain the main form of economic opportunity for the population. This is true of many developing countries. As a result, donors such as AusAID and governments in the Pacific have been seeking to facilitate private sector-led economic development in primary industries, particularly in agriculture.
In 2010-11, Inovact Consulting led a project for the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) to examine how donors and governments could innovate in their approach to better support industry organisations (such as farmer associations, cooperatives, and other process and marketing groups) in achieving and accelerating locally led development. The outcome was a practical strategy for facilitating the economic development of domestic agricultural industries in the Pacific.
The study found that there are significant issues with the way relationships are built that undermine effectiveness and the development of robust, independent industry organisations. While these are important examples of success, overall, the industry organisation sector in the Pacific is fragmented and fragile.
The project found that the manner in which funding is provided and the role played by donors and government is fundamental to success. These findings will help inform future partnerships in the Pacific and are directly relevant to developing appropriate structures and mechanisms in other developing countries.