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Kirwin’s ‘Loving Islands’ Promotes Organic Farming

  A self-described environmentalist and humanitarian, Ms Kirwin’s ‘Loving Islands’ focusses on improving the lives of rural farmers. Litia Kirwin, an Australian-Fijian social entrepreneur, is working to improve the lives
17 Sep 2018 10:01
Kirwin’s  ‘Loving Islands’ Promotes Organic  Farming
Litia Kirwin, social entrepreneur and founder of ‘Loving Islands’. Photo: Sheenam Chandra

 

A self-described environmentalist and humanitarian, Ms Kirwin’s ‘Loving Islands’ focusses on improving the lives of rural farmers.

Litia Kirwin, an Australian-Fijian social entrepreneur, is working to improve the lives of farmers in the Pacific Islands.

Ms Kirwin, 30, is the founder of ‘Loving Islands’ a social enterprise based in Australia and Fiji that promotes sustainable Pacific Island development.

It has been working in Fiji since 2017.

“A lot of our work focuses on providing rural communities with new livelihood development opportunities through organic farming,” Ms Kirwin said.

Loving Islands has a presence on Matuku, Lau.

They  also do work with the United Nations Development Project (UNDP) in Vanua Levu.

Ms Kirwin has a strong link with Matuku; it is the birthplace of her mother.

She says the bulk of her work involves promoting sustainable human development.

A self-described environmentalist and humanitarian, Ms Kirwin’s ‘Loving Islands’ focusses on improving the lives of rural farmers.

“There is a high population of rural farmers in Fiji and in order to improve their incomes and retain the fertility of the soil for this generation and the next, organic farming is the way to do go,” she said.

Ms Kirwin was born in Australia and spent some time in Fiji with her grandparents before moving away for her studies.

In 2015, while studying Masters of Commerce at The University of Sydney, she received an international scholarship to Fiji to complete her research thesis.

She premised her thesis on whether organic agriculture was a viable means of sustainable economic development for rural island communities.

“To summarise, it definitely has a high viable solution,” Ms Kiriwn says.

“But it also has a lot of challenges. As long as we can address those challenges effectively, we can achieve the development goals.”

Ms Kirwin also recently featured in the 2018 Forbes list of 30-Under-30  social entrepreneurs in Asia.

She admits she was surprised by the inclusion.

“I am still not sure who nominated us,” Ms Kirwin said.

“It was around March this year and I received news that I have been short-listed for this.

“Another journalist got in touch, I am sure they did their own research, and then asked me a few questions and then next thing I knew I received a congratulatory email.”

Loving Islands employs three staff and is officially registered as a foreign investment.

Ms Kirwin says the profits have been steady, and plans to open an office on Vanua Levu.

But what do Loving Islands actually do?

“We develop organic value chains for communities so we usually start by setting them up as soon as possible,” Ms Kirwin says.

“Over time we hand back the responsibilities when they are ready so that they can run those value chains themselves.

“This is part of the income guarantee they provide to the communities.”

Loving Island also manufactures products.

“For Matuku Island, they produce virgin cococonut oil and when we have a surplus of that, we can make soaps, body balms and candles,” Ms Kirwin said.

Loving Islands has a high focus on women and youths and close to 60 per cent of their producers are female, Ms Kirwin says.

Ms Kirwin also offered advice to farmers.

She said: “Go Organic. Does not matter which field you work in, there is always a positive impact that you can have.

“Taking the steps and initiative to create the positive change whenever you are working.

“We want to impact the livelihoods and make a difference in the lives of rural farmers.”

Feedback:  sheenam.chandra@fijisun.com.fj

 

 



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