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PNA promotes domestic value-adding to tuna fisher

By Danilo Cedrone (United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization) ( [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Majuro, Marshall Islands—The first regional training for small-scale tuna canning entrepreneurs in the Pacific will start Monday in Majuro. The training aims to certify prospective canners so that commercial tuna canning operations can be successfully launched in several island member nations of the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA).

PNA CEO Ludwig Kumoru said PNA’s aim is to find as many ways as possible to add value to the commercial tuna industry for member nations.

PNA is partnering with the Marshall Islands government’s Office of Commerce and Investment (OCI) to host the canning training that will run from October 10-14 in Majuro. Business and government representatives from at least five island nations are expected to take part in the tuna canning training program in Majuro.

Participation is confirmed from business people and government representatives from Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Kiribati, Federated States of Micronesia and Marshall Islands. The program features a two-stage training: Monday and Tuesday will provide a basic “canning assistant certificate,” while a more detailed three-day training for a “canning supervisors certificate” will follow. Training sessions are being held at the Pan Pacific Foods tuna loining plant in Majuro.

The canning is focused on small-scale canning operations for domestic markets, using a large — 16oz — family size can. PNA Commercial Manager Maurice Brownjohn said if entrepreneurs in the islands can agree to use the same size can, it will allow for bulk purchases of cans that will save money and will allow for standardizing the canning equipment. Important advantages of the larger can to be used in the Majuro training include the fact that the cans are made so they “nest,” which both increases the volume of cans that can be shipped in small containers while reducing damage when they are shipped in bulk quantities prior to canning. The heavier composition of the cans will also extend shelf life after production, said Mr. Brownjohn.

The training in Majuro is being conducted by the Australia-based company Food Stream, which conducted an initial demonstration in Majuro last year of small-scale canning operations.

OCI CEO Ravuni Uluilakeba said entrepreneurs from Kiribati and FSM are looking to gain certification so they can start canning operations “straight away.” The hope is that the training will spur canning operations for domestic markets in all of the PNA nations participating in next week’s training.

Mr. Uluilakeba and Mr. Brownjohn emphasized the high standards that need to be followed by canners to ensure the safety of the food products being produced. The training will be conducted in line with Australian food processing standards, said Mr. Brownjohn. A “standard operating procedure” for canned tuna production will be established for canning entrepreneurs, he added.

The training will focus on the “critical technical aspects” of canning food products, said Mr. Uluilakeba, who added the aim of the training is to ensure island entrepreneurs have access to and training on the right technology.

The high pressure cooker and electronic can sealer can be purchased for as little as US$2,000, making it extremely affordable for small-scale operators.

PNA’s requirement of in-port transshipment for purse seiners is providing island entrepreneurs this canning opportunity because raw materials — various types of tuna — are readily available, said Mr. Kumoru. “The rules PNA puts in to manage the tuna fishery are creating many spinoff opportunities for local businesses,” he said. “The requirement of 100 percent retention of fish is an incentive for purse seiners not to set on small schools of fish, and also creates an opportunity in-port for canning and fish meal production.”

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