In June 2013, Cicia Island in Fijis Lau Group was declared a fully organic island. With support from the Pacific Organic and Ethical Trade Community (POETCom) initiative managed by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), a participatory guarantee system (PGS) of organic certification is being set in place to facilitate the development of local market chains for organic produce. (For more details on PGS certification, see Agritrade article Report highlights expansion of organic production for local markets in t..., 13 June 2013.) The current initiative focuses on the production of virgin coconut oil.
The importation of inorganic fertilisers and chemicals to Cicia was banned 6 years ago, as a prelude to the conversion of the entire island to organic forms of production. While this initiative involves little change in traditional farming practices, the introduction of the PGS system of organic certification will potentially allow new markets to be opened up.
In July, in the French overseas territory of New Caledonia, which is participating in the POETCom initiative, a workshop was held to evaluate the 4 years experience of the BioCaledonia Association PGS system of organic certification. According to BioCaledonias Executive Director, Fabienne Gandet, New Caledonia has gone from a state of no organic agriculture to a thriving and diverse organic movement with consumers, retailers and producers all engaged and committed to organic development.
As a result of activities within the POETCom network, organic products are now being sourced from Pacific ACP suppliers by retailers in New Caledonia, rather than being sourced from Europe.