Consolidated Responses for the PAFPNet Discussion for the month of September 2015

Date: 15/09/2015 – 02/10/2015

"Agricultural policy access, uptake and content"

For the month of September, PAFPNet hosted the discussion topic themed, "Agricultural policy access, uptake and content". This dialogue provided an insight on the significance of clear, evidence based national agriculture/forestry policies for the security of rural livelihoods as a contributing progressing factor for the Pacific agriculture sector.

Five questions were underlined for the discussion that trigged a thorough exchange of views. The accessibility of agricultural policies was highlighted imperative for Pacific Island countries. According to Vanuatu, their Agricultural sector policy was non-existent until provision was granted by the European Union (EU) supported Pacific Agricultural Policy Project (PAPP). The forum also drew attention to the availability of agriculture sector policies and its availability in their countries. The ad-hoc attitude without a vision of long-term strategic planning is an issue the ministries in the pacific must address in order to achieve an effective and concise sector policy.

It is vital that underlying issues pertinent to each country be strongly emphasized in their national sector policy. Identifying these issues will contribute to strengthening each sector in the economy, specifically those in direct relationship with the agriculture industry. On a larger scale, a regional approach is what is needed to address certain issues. Contributors to the dialogue stated that finance access, Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs), marketing, processing (value-add process), youth in agriculture and climate change issues are problems that need a regional approach.

In addition, national commodities were also described as a means to contribute in the progression of each country’s national policy. Placing more focus and emphasis on agricultural produce, fruits and livestock production were pinpointed critical for improving national policy in the pacific.

Moreover, a common trend had been identified among farmers for their lack of active engagement in the formulation of sector policy development. It was suggested by our PAFPNet members that more meetings and stakeholder workshops need to be held in order to tackle this issue. Involving farmers, businesses, private sectors and youth in policy consultation processes would help reinforce national agriculture sector policies in the pacific. On the same note, the discussion also generated a table topic of youth participation in sector policy development. Apprentice programs with growers/farmers and national youth consultations were listed as a channel to increase youth participation in this area.

Lastly, information and communications technology (ICT) has been considered essential for the evolution of the agriculture industry and national policy sector. Respondents stated that in order to maximise ICT to create an effective policy sector system, tools should be utilised for information dissemination via social media and be given proper training, for instance Web 2.0. Additionally, using existing institutions like that of the ministries, farmer schools and organisations would be a great vehicle to provide effective training on capitalizing ICT and catering for capacity development.