The Pacific Agriculture Policy Program aims to strengthen the livelihoods of smallholder farmers by growing their linkages to markets, improving access to information, research, and knowledge, and by improving the policy and operating environment for farmers through evidence based policies.

Pacific economies are largely rural, agricultural-based economies. Family farms or smallholder farmers are a key unit in these economies. In many ways, the livelihoods of these smallholder farmers are critical to sustaining Pacific rural communities and providing opportunities for young men and women.

Rural farmers are constrained by systemic and other reasons; lack of access to information, research support, and policies that support better access to markets and elevate their interests. PAPP is aimed at intervening in the key areas of policies, information, and markets.

Research and development as well as the sharing of good field practices is important to farmers, extension officers, policy makers, producers and other key stakeholders.

As a knowledge-based regional institution, LRD already has at its disposal a range of project databases/portals, such as the Pacific Agricultural Plant Genetic Resources Network (PAPGREN), and niche research facilities such as the Centre for Pacific Crops and Trees (CePaCT) that provide knowledge and information to member countries. The challenge is ensuring that the information is regularly provided and that they are provided to stakeholders in an easy, accessible form. There’s also the need to measure the impact of the provided knowledge.

SPC’s CePaCT is a regional in vitro genebank dedicated to developing a “climate-ready” collection of crops and varieties with traits/characteristics that will tolerate marginal to extreme climatic conditions. Climate Change and the increased frequency and intensity of natural disasters is predicted to pose significant challenges to farming communities located in flood and drought prone areas. Climate tolerant crops such as salinity and drought tolerant bananas and sweet potatoes identified by CePaCT have been trialled in a wide range of soil types and areas with different rainfall patterns.

PAPP is working directly with smallholder farmer networks to improve their (and their members') capacity to link to markets. This has been achieved by collaborating with the Pacific Island Farmers Organisation Network (PIFON), which has capabilities for facilitating south-south exchanges of technical information. PIFON is an umbrella organisation that can coordinate capacity building, share success stories and the lessons learned, support regional exchanges of expertise between farmer organisations and their associated private sector partners.

PAPP is working directly to support Farmer Organisations (FOs) to better engage farmers through activities such as updating farmer inventories, undertaking surveys and studies, and disseminating information. It helps to strengthen the capacity of key FOs through actions such as developing strategic and financing plans in order to improve the financial viability and/or financial independence of these organisations. PAPP will support regional exchanges of expertise among farmer organizations including associated private sector partners (3 exchanges per year) in order to improve their linkages to markets. The programme will also support regional exchanges of information between FOs by contributing to regional training sessions.

The project also works with the Pacific Organic and Ethical Trade Community (POETCom) secretariat, hosted by SPC, which aims to link small-farmers to niche markets.

PAPP conducted a farmers-buyers markets aimed at connecting farmers to end user groups such as the hospitality industry, and will also provide participating farmers with training to better prepare them for operating in these markets. The PAPP team has already successfully assisted in the delivery of a hotel chef – farmers market in Samoa involving over 25 farmers and 15 hotels, in collaboration with Samoa’s tourism authority and the South Pacific Tourism Organisation (SPTO).