Delegates at a regional forestry workshop being held in Nadi, Fiji identified population growth, land tenure, unsustainable agricultural practices, political will and environmental shocks as important issues affecting the development of the forestry sector.
The workshop brought together senior government officials from the Pacific Islands to discuss the future of forestry in the region.
Fiji's Forest Policy
A new forest policy for Fiji was endorsed by Cabinet in November 2007, replacing the existing forest policy, which dated from 1950.
The policy review and formulation process began in 2003 when, in response to a request from Fiji’s Forestry Department, LRD, with the support of GTZ (German Technical Cooperation), agreed to provide the technical and funding assistance required.
Given the changes that have taken place since the 1950s, a review was necessary to ensure that the policy adequately addressed the changing demands on Fiji’s forests, in terms of balancing the country’s economic, social and environmental needs. It also needed to address Fiji’s obligations under the various international agreements and conventions that it has signed. Lastly, but most importantly, the new policy had to be more broad-based than the 1950 policy.
To a great extent, the new forest policy satisfies these needs. Its main thrusts are as follows:
Pacific youth comprise about 20% of the total population of Pacific Island countries and territories and their proportion is projected to grow at an annual rate of 2.2%. This rapid rise in the number of young people will increase demands for essential social services such as education and health, and for employment opportunities.
Many young people in the region already struggle to find formal employment when they leave the education system. Agriculture has often been regarded as a fall-back option – something to do if you don’t find anything else. But with high-levels of youth unemployment, increasing pressure on urban areas and high food import bills should we not be doing more to encourage, support and empower our young people to realise the full potential of a career in agriculture? And in the process help to improve food security, livelihood opportunities in rural areas and reduce pressure on urban areas.
The purpose of the youth in agriculture strategy is to recommend actions and initiatives that all stakeholders can pursue to encourage the active engagement of youth in agriculture across the region and the development of young agricultural entrepreneurs. We aim to present the Youth in Agriculture Strategy at the next Heads of Agriculture and Forestry Services (HOAFS) meeting in September 2010 and the Ministers of Youth in October 2010 for their endorsement and to take back and adapt to the national level.