31 March 2015
Suva, Fiji – Almost 70 new varieties of potato and sweet potato will soon be available to Pacific Island countries and territories, to improve food security across the region.
The Secretariat of the Pacific Community’s (SPC’s) Centre for Pacific Crops and Trees (CePaCT), based in Suva, Fiji, has received 42 new potato varieties as tissue cultures that are sub-tropical, heat-tolerant and resistant to some potato viruses.
Potato is becoming one of the most consumed crops in the Pacific Islands region, with some countries and territories beginning to grow potatoes, while Fiji imports FJD 17 million of potatoes ever year.
Suva, Fiji – Coconuts have a unique potential to contribute to sustainable and healthy rural livelihoods throughout the Pacific islands and can provide a key driver for employment, incomes and growth in the region.
A 3-day regional consultation (30 March – 1 April) will be held at Novotel Nadi to prepare the groundwork for a new Pacific Regional Coconut Strategy. The technical consultation is facilitated by the European Union funded Pacific Agricultural Policy Project (PAPP) based with SPC Land Resources Division. PAPP aims to strengthen agricultural policies for sustained development of smallholder agriculture through closer linkage to competitive markets and improved knowledge management platforms for technology transfer.
Farmers are at the centre of a new partnership agreement signed by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) and the umbrella organisation representing 19 farmers’ groups across the Pacific – the Pacific Island Farmers’ Organisation (PIFON).
The signing ceremony took place on 24 October 2014 at the Holiday Inn, Suva, where SPC Deputy Director-General Mrs Fekita ‘Utoikamanu said, 'Without the hard work of our farmers, there is no food supply, no food security and it will be difficult to sustain the growth of our communities.'
Mrs ‘Utoikamanu explained that SPC is investing in a change process, restructuring and repositioning itself to better provide efficient and practical services delivering clear results for member countries.
Fiji’s Ministry of Agriculture organised the Agricultural Show in Ra over two days (4–5 September 2014) and well over a thousand people, including many students and farmers, came to the grounds to browse among the displays and get some education on a diversity of subjects: chicken incubators, cattle breeds, varieties of coconut, prohibited quarantine pests, different varieties of sweet potatoes and aquaculture, to name only a few.
In his opening remarks , Permanent Secretary for Fisheries and Forests, Mr Inoke Wainiqolo, said that the aim of the agricultural show is to highlight agriculture as a profession, as a business – agribusiness – and ultimately as a contributor to Fiji’s growing economy.