"Policy Drivers For Public Private Partnership In Pacific organics : Improving Extension Policy Through An Evidence- Based Approach"

November 18, 2020       South Pacific Community (SPC) - Narere Campus

? Regional Manager for the Pacific & Papua New Guinea - Australian Centre for International Agriculture Research (ACIAR)

? ACIAR Project Teams – University of the Sunshine Coast and University of Adelaide 

? Executive Director of FRIEND - Ms Sashi Kiran

? Staff of SPC 

? Members of Pacific Organic & Ethical Trade Community (POETCom)

? Senior Government Officials

? Stakeholders and Partners

? Invited Guests 

? Ladies and Gentlemen

Bula Vinaka and a very Good Morning to you all.

Thank you so much for your kind invitation and I am honoured to be here with you this morning to officiate this very important workshop - “Policy Drivers for Public-Private Partnerships in Pacific Organics: Improving Extension Policy through an Evidence-based approach.” I believe this workshop is happening at the right time when Government is fully supporting public – private partnership to enhance development strategies especially in Fiji’s Agriculture sector. 

Ladies and Gentlemen, the increase demand for high quality products in export markets coupled with Pacific Island countries national desire to protect the environment, biodiversity and family farming structures, lead to assume that organic agriculture could offer good prospects for Pacific Island developing states. Beside market opportunities, it increases our food self-reliance and contributes to reducing alarming trend of dependency on food imports and improve nutrition. 

Worldwide organic agriculture is growing rapidly. In 2007, the International Trade sales totalled to over US $46 billion doubling the 2002 market value. This trend indicates the growing consumer demand for organic commodities and the viable opportunity it offers farmers and processors to benefit from its expanding international markets.    

Ladies and Gentlemen, with this being said our traditional farming practices are very much in line with organic agriculture methods. Today many communities still have Agricultural systems based on age old practices which ensure environmental integrity and do not use chemical inputs. But for these products to be exportable to overseas markets as “organic,” they must be certified. And I know, that this workshop will ensure that such process are made known to all stakeholders. 

Organic Agriculture provides important opportunities for farmers and processors to export to niche markets a number of high value, low volume crops thereby enhancing economic sustainability. It is slowly expanding in Fiji with more than 28,000ha under Organic certification and the Ministry of Agriculture together with its partners and stakeholders are ensuring that more focus is directed to developing organic agriculture for farmers. 

The Ministry of Agriculture in its work towards encouraging organic agriculture practices, through its Research Division have continued to conduct Research on organic fertilizer. A compost site has been established at our Nadurulolou Research station where formulation of different proportions of organic material such as Poultry manure, Bat manure, Saw Dust, Green waste etc. have been tested to achieve suitable NPK levels.  Outcome of this exercise will ensure the best replacement for chemical fertilisers and the Ministry hope to launch this initiative by April, 2021.

 On June 10th 2020, the Ministry launched its bacterium media in Sigatoka to assist farmers with bacteria culture for organic fertilizer. This liquid solution will be distributed to Agriculture stations throughout Fiji where farmers can easily access it to use on their farms. Each bottle of bacterium media will be issued with a brochure to assist farmers in setting up their compost. 

The Ministry is also engaged with POETcom, Earthcare Agency together with Third Party Control Union based in Singapore to certify our existing organic Ginger and Tumeric farmers from Namosi, Ra and Cicia Island. A total of 30 organic farmers have been identified who consistently supply Ginger and Tumeric to Kai Ming Agro Processing Limited for exports. This certification will ensure farmers getting premium price for their commodities.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Industry Trade and Tourism through funding by UNDP, IFAD, DFAT and the EU have been working on developing a Fiji National Organic Policy, which will be endorsed using lessons learnt and outcomes from this workshop. The National Policy draft that will be discussed today, was formulated after extensive stakeholder consultations.  

On that note Ladies and Gentlemen, I would like to commend the effort of FRIEND and all stakeholders for developing this draft. ACIAR for supporting the existing organic value chains in Fiji and Vanuatu and identifying gaps that you will be discussing further today.   

I also acknowledge with gratitude ACIAR, on their interest to supporting long term research effort that will assist organic farmers not only in Fiji but also in the Pacific. 

Today the Ministry of Agriculture through Fiji Organic Working Group will be presenting the draft National Organic Policy for Fiji together with the Organic Action Plan and Strategy that will ensure development of organic agriculture in the sector. 

Before I conclude, I would like to applaud the efforts of the Pacific Community through the Pacific Organic & Ethical Trade Community (POETCom) for supporting Fiji and the Pacific in pursuing organic initiatives.

Once again, I wish you a successful workshop and I look forward to its outcomes and how we, together, as partners can ensure establishment of a thriving and sustainable organic industry in Fiji’s Agriculture sector. 

Now, it gives me great pleasure to officially open your 2 day workshop and I wish you all the best in your deliberations. 

Thank you, vinaka vakalevu and Dhaanyavaard.