This quarterly Digest reports the landmark efforts by Pacific countries to make agricultural information available through “Agricultural Policy Banks” to the public. Up to now, it has been difficult for stakeholders including the media to easily obtain sector information such as plans, policies or commodity information. Through PAPP, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands and Tonga launched new Policy Banks, essentially online libraries of national agricultural information. All other Pacific countries in which PAPP operates, also have similar electronic libraries available through the PAPP hosted Pacific Agriculture, Forestry and Policy Network (PAFPNet) policy bank portal. www.spc.int/pafpnet/policy-bank
FSM is preparing for its first Integrated National Census of Agriculture in over 50 yrs. Despite the fact that agriculture contributes approximately 15% of GDP in FSM, no national level census has been conducted since the 1960’s. The Census is a nation-wide effort to capture data on household activities on crop production, forestry, livestock and fisheries. The Census is the first of its kind; a multi-sector cooperative effort which will create an opportunity to empower their natural resource management and statistics agencies in evidence based policy management and development. Work is ongoing on the development of the data entry system for inputting the results of the Census so watch this space for more news on the development of this work.
Access to finance is a well-documented constraint for businesses in many developing countries including Fiji and other Pacific islands. This issue is particularly exacerbated for the agriculture sector in the Pacific region given smaller markets, high costs of business, under-developed capital markets and a relatively smaller commercial agricultural sector.
PAPP is working in partnership with the Pacific Organic and Ethical Trade Community (POETCom) to support the development of organic production and certification in the region, and build niche market linkages for smallholder farmers. During February POETCom, with support from PAPP, initiated a five day mapping and data collection pilot project for organic certification of wild harvested coffee for the Bula Coffee Company at Sigatoka. The pilot was conducted by POETCom staff, working with an SPC Land Resources Division Geographic Information System (GIS) Technician, and an Extension Officer from the Fiji Ministry of Agriculture.