POET interviews Susan of Fiji Joe Turmeric on International Women’s Day

Originally written for Organic Pasifika on International Women’s Day, March 11, 2021

Meet Susan Murat, an American entrepreneur working in partnership with Joe Taoi, a Fijian man in providing certified organic turmeric to US markets for health benefits. Together they run Fiji Joe Turmeric and Blakeview Organic Turmeric Processing. Click on the link below to read more on how this in turn helped to provide economic returns to iTaukei villages in Fiji.

Susan’s work in organic agriculture began with her passion for turmeric, its medicinal benefits and a yearning to share this with the world. Having no prior experience did not stop Susan from chasing her dream when she started Fiji Joe Turmeric with her business partner in Fiji, Joe Taoi. She learned on the job and now runs a successful business exporting organically certified turmeric to US markets. 

When asked on what she thinks communities/leaders can better support women in agriculture, she says, “As in every group situation, leaders emerge, and these women ought to receive training so that THEY can lead and encourage their own communities.” She further adds that in the case of planting for export, it is also important to find a buyer/partner beforehand.

When asked for any advice to inspire men and women to stand for gender equality, Susan says that we must “recognise the value of what women bring to the table.  These are your mothers, sisters and daughters – but that’s not all!  In addition to intelligence, women possess intuition, kindness, creativity and compassion. These qualities are vital components of well-rounded and balanced communities and businesses.  Educate, encourage and support the women you know to become involved in the careers of their choice and be PROUD of them instead of feeling threatened by their successes.   To do otherwise is to deny your communities, homes, and businesses the ability to reach their full potential.  Give women a chance and they will surprise you!” 

Susan buys organic turmeric from independent farmers and also from her business partner’s farm and together they also created Blakeview Organic Turmeric Processing – a unit that washes, slices and dries the turmeric. This year Susan is working with a group of villages through the Foundation for Rural Integrated Enterprises & Development, FRIEND Fiji.