10 Mar 2014

Aim of rural Fiji training to create genuine items for tourists

5:27 pm on 10 March 2014

A project to train rural women in Fiji to make jewellery from 'Mother of Pearl' shells aims to not only help women earn a living, but also create more genuine Fiji made items for tourists.

The study of the pearl industry by the University of the South Pacific, with James Cook and Adelaide Universities, found that while pearls were making a lot of money, their shells were not being utilised.

It also found that most of what's being sold to tourists in Fiji is imported from Asia, but is falsely being sold as made in Fiji.

The associate professor in the school of management at the USP, Dr. Anand Chand, says they wanted grass-roots women in rural villages to benefit by teaching them to create jewellery items from pearl shells to sell to tourists.

"They don't want to buy anything that is coming from China or Indonesia, because they want to take these gifts back to their families so they can show that they were in Fiji, this is genuine stuff, and secondly they get this kind of humanitarian aspect that by buying the jewellery for $5, they're actually helping Fijian, particularly women, in rural settings, to benefit out of this project."

Dr Anand Chand says a small group of women in Fiji's Ba district are making the jewellery.