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.
The event was also attended by the Permanent Secretary for Agriculture in Fiji, Mr Ropate Ligairi, and representatives from the International Fund for Agricultural Development, SPC and PIFON members.
The partnership, which provides FJD 400,000 support to the network in two years to December 2016, aims to increase the contribution of the agriculture and forestry sectors to national economic growth and livelihoods in the Pacific region.
The partnership agreement was facilitated by the SPC Land Resources Division's Pacific Agriculture Policy Project (PAPP), a project funded under the European Union's Intra ACP programme encompassing the Pacific and the Caribbean region, of which eight million euro (FJD 19.7 million) has been allocated by the European Union for the Pacific component.
The Pacific Agriculture Policy Project commenced in July this year and will run to 2017. PAPP's main objective is to increase the capability of agricultural development organisations in the Pacific region and address the development needs of smallholders by assisting them to adopt new technologies, build on traditional knowledge and strengthen links to markets.
The signed agreement lays the foundation in the following key areas of work over the next 24 months:
- support for regional exchanges of expertise between farmer organisations and private sector partnerships;
- collaboration with Pacific country extension services, national farmer organisations and organic producers on promoting sustainable agricultural practices;
- strengthening the sustainability of national farmer organisations; and
- establishing a help desk for questions on commercial agriculture.
PIFON Board Member Andrew McGregor said the partnership is a new approach to regional co-operation with farmers’ networks in the Pacific. PIFON’s focus is on strengthening the capacity and sustainability of farmer organisations and facilitating peer-to-peer lesson learning and technical exchanges.
The occasion was also used to officially launch the Agricultural Value Chain Guide for the Pacific Islands. The value chain analysis guide targets farmers, traders and policy makers. It is designed to be practical and, unlike many other value chain guides, is directed primarily at actors in the value chain. It is designed to take account of challenges specific to the Pacific, such as small volumes, high transportation costs and producers being far from market. The guide, produced by PIFON board members with support from the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation is the outcome of participatory consultations with farmers and the private sector to understand what it is that they want in value chains for export markets.
Fiji's Permanent Secretary for Agriculture, Mr Ligairi, welcomed the guide, saying that effective value chain management is a key driver of the Fiji government’s objectives for agriculture, as outlined in the recently launched Fiji 2020 Agriculture Sector Policy.
The guide will be trialled as a training tool in the coming months in Vanuatu, with PIFON member Farm Support Association and, in Taveuni, Fiji, with PIFON members TeiTei Taveuni and Tutu Rural Training Centre. During this time, a staff member from the Tutu Rural Training Centre will be visiting the Napil Rural Training Centre on Tanna, Vanuatu, to advise on training youth for self-employment in agriculture.
1) SPC Deputy Director-General, Mrs Fekita ‘Utoikamanu signing the partnership agreement with Mr Andrew McGregor, PIFON Board Member; PAPP Team Leader, Mr Vili Caniogo looks on.
2) Fiji’s Permanent Secretary for Agriculture, Mr Ropate Ligairi (r), joins Ms Fekita ‘Utoikamanu (SPC Deputy Director-General), and Mr Andrew McGregor (PIFON Board Member) at the launch of the value chain guide book.