Agriculture talks in Apia to focus on sector's future

Agricultural leaders from 28 Pacific nations will gather in Apia next week for an event dedicated to mapping out the future of agriculture in the region.

The biennial Pacific Week of Agriculture will bring together Ministers and representatives from across the region in the name of addressing the major challenges facing agriculture, fisheries and forestry. 

The event is to be convened by the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (M.A.F.); it is only the second time the event has been staged since its inaugural event in Vanuatu in 2017. 

The main agenda will also be complemented by additional events sponsored by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (A.C.I.A.R.), a government body that has funded more than AUD$20 million worth of research and development projects across nine Pacific states: Samoa, Fiji, Kiribati the Solomon Islands, Timor-Leste, Tuvalu and Vanuatu. 

The events will focus on issues such as biosecurity, the state of media coverage of the agricultural sector and the development of future leaders. 

“[The] Pacific Week of Agriculture is an excellent opportunity for A.C.I.A.R. to exchange knowledge and consult with national and regional research & development agencies as we refine our strategic direction in the region,” said the organisation’s Chief Executive Officer  Andrew Campbell.

“The Pacific faces unique agricultural development challenges. From potential economic shocks such as sudden changes to already-high food and fuel prices, through to ongoing exposure to natural disasters and the impacts of climate change.

“While there are significant challenges facing the Pacific Community, there are also opportunities for each country to produce more and healthier food locally, to reduce reliance on imports and to improve livelihoods for local producers’ says Professor Campbell. ‘We’re looking forward to meeting with our partner organisations and working together to ensure that agricultural research supports a more resilient Pacific family.”

The Pacific Community (S.P.C.) will host the Special Session of the Heads of Agriculture and Forestry Services during the event. The organisation will then partner with the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organisation to host the second Joint Ministerial Meeting of the Ministers of Agriculture and Forestry Services.

Agriculture accounts for 10.7 per cent of the nation's Gross Domestic Product according to the World Bank, and about 90 per cent of national exports. 

The Pacific Week of Agriculture will run from September 30 to October 4 at the Samoa Conference Centre. 

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