Samoa will host the next Pacific Week of Agriculture, and second Joint F.A.O. and S.P.C. Pacific Ministers of Agriculture and Forestry Meeting in 2019.
The offer by Samoa was warmly accepted by Ministers during the first F.A.O. and S.P.C. Joint Pacific Ministers of Agriculture and Forestry meeting that was held in Port Vila, Vanuatu.
The meeting combined the previous Agriculture Ministerial meetings organised separately by F.A.O. and S.P.C.
Ministerial meeting was the culmination of the inaugural Pacific Week of Agriculture held in Vanuatu.
The Deputy Director-General of F.A.O, Maria Helena Semedo highlighted the challenges faced by Small Islands Developing States and called for bold action.
F.A.O. said it was placing great importance on its work in the Pacific and it had increased its staff and technical capacity.
F.A.O. called for working together in innovative ways, and that solutions could be found at the local, regional and international levels.
F.A.O’s responses included the Multi-Country Programming Framework (C.P.F.) for the Pacific Islands 2018-2022, and the Pacific regionalisation of the Global Action Programme on Food Security and Nutrition in SIDS. Papua New Guinea has a separate C.P.F.
The Deputy Director General of S.P.C, Dr. Audrey Aumua, said the region faced huge challenges including from the impacts of climate change.
Non-communicable diseases were the leading cause of death in the region, with life expectancy declining as a result.
Food and nutritional security had to be at the top of the political agenda. In the Pacific, an average of 3 percent of national budgets went to the agriculture sector.
Smallholder farmers produced most of the local food, and innovative partnerships with them will help to promote food security.
The meeting welcomed the presentation on the Global Action Programme on Food Security and Nutrition in Small Island Developing States (G.A.P. S.I.D.S.).
The programme provides for improved access to safe, sufficient and nutritious foods, the end of hunger and malnutrition in all its forms, and the sustainable management and utilization of natural resources in Small Islands Developing States.
The objectives are to (1) Strengthen the enabling environments for food security and nutrition; (2) Establishing Sustainable, Resilient and Nutrition-Sensitive Food Systems; and (3) Empower people and communities.
The Ministers noted that regionalising and operationalising the G.A.P. in the Pacific requires fewer studies and more tangible actions tailored to the specific social, cultural, technological and demographic characteristics of countries in the region.
The ministers supported the actions being undertaken by F.A.O. and partners to develop a five-year Regional Framework for Accelerating Action on Food Security and Nutrition in Pacific S.I.D.S. F.A.O. affirmed that biodiversity, gender equity and women’s economic empowerment would be integral to implementation of the framework in the Pacific.
The F.A.O. intends to consult with partners to further develop actions for inclusion in the framework, and to present the Pacific Framework for discussion at the 34th session of the F.A.O regional conference for Asia and the Pacific to be held in Nadi, Fiji in April 2018.
F.A.O. presented a paper on the Pacific Multi-Country Programming Framework (C.P.F.) 2018-2022.
The C.P.F. is a planning tool for the development of priorities between F.A.O. and member countries.
The aim is to foster a sustainable increase in production, trade and marketing of domestic agriculture products, and the healthy consumption of diverse, safe and nutritious food.
The Ministers noted ongoing challenges such as a rising demand for water from the agriculture and other sectors, and better ideas are needed for the use of scarce water resources, including waste water.
Access to land for agriculture is becoming a problem because of pressure from other sectors, including water catchments.
These and other problems are being exacerbated by the impacts of climate change. It was also highlighted that Pacific island farmers are often unable to access credit, which impacts on their ability to contribute to food and nutritional security, and F.A.O. and S.P.C. should consider this in their work plans.
F.A.O. highlighted its experience with schemes to improve access to credit for farmers.
Programmes to improve market access and trade facilitation are a priority, in terms of their technical aspects. Research and other studies in the region should have stronger links to practical action on the ground.
The valuable contribution by women in agriculture should be acknowledged, given their contribution to agriculture, and in promoting nutrition and food security.
The Ministers also highlighted the increased dependence on unhealthy processed imported food and called for more investment in agriculture that would help to address the serious threat posed by non-communicable diseases, which are having major social, economic and health impacts in the region.
In addition to these, farmers need access to more diverse and resilient seeds and planting materials, and the importance of the conservation and sustainable use of plant genetic resources, and supported the strengthening of F.A.O. and S.P.C. work in this field.
Building on the joint approach by F.A.O. and S.P.C. for the meeting, Ministers encouraged closer collaboration between F.A.O. and S.P.C. including the possibility of joint programming, and welcomed the focus on gender and women’s economic empowerment across F.A.O. and S.P.C. programming.
The need for more agriculture data and statistics that would improve policy decision making and action on the ground was requested by the Ministers.
The Ministers also noted S.P.C. Land Resources Division’s focus on four strategic pillars - genetic resources; sustainable forests and land management; sustainable agriculture for food and nutritional security, and markets for livelihoods value chain, and was developing a new business plan and undergoing internal reforms within the Division.
Representing Samoa were Lopaoo Natanielu Mu’a, Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Tilafono David Hunter, C.E.O. of M.A.F., and Moafanua Tolusina Pouli, A.C.E.O. Forestry M.N.R.E.
The Planning and Development Manager of S.T.A., Faamatuainu Suifua Faamatuainu, and Principal Officer of Policy, Planning and Communication Division of M.A.F., Taimalietane Matatumua-Tuivavalagi, also attended the Pacific Week of Agriculture’s side event on Agritourism.
The meeting was attended by Ministers from Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tokelau and Tuvalu, and Heads of Delegation from Australia, Federated States of Micronesia, French Polynesia, Guam, Marshall Islands, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Palau, Tonga and Vanuatu.
Representatives from the national Governments of Nauru and Niue and representatives from the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (A.C.I.A.R.), Technical Centre for Agricultural & Rural Cooperation (C.T.A.), Delegation of the European Union for the Pacific, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (G.I.Z.), International Atomic Energy Agency (I.A.E.A.), International Fund for Agricultural Development (I.F.A.D.), World Bank (W.B.), Landcare Research New Zealand Limited, Pacific Horticultural & Agricultural Market Access Program (P.H.A.M.A.), United Nations Development Programme (U.N.D.P.) and the University of the Sunshine Coast attended as observers.