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“Food is the gateway into all cultures”

The 2nd Pacific Agribusiness Forum gets underway with sessions featuring trends, access and standards.

August 30, 2016

Blessed by a Reverend, opened by a Prime Minister and chaired by key players working together in the name of agribusiness success in the Pacific, the Forum got into the crux of the issues and opportunities for the agri-food sector, value-chain models for improved market access and compliance to quality standards of agri-products.

P1020159 850Honourable Prime Minister Tuilaepa of Samoa addresses the participants.As is the Pacific Way, the Reverend Sasesulu blessed the forum before Samoa's Prime Minister Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Sailele Malielegaoi officially opened the 2nd Pacific Agribusiness Forum today, addressing the participants first in English and then in Samoan. "Food is the gateway into all cultures," he said. "We are indeed blessed with an ocean abundant with marine life, and fertile soils capable of recovering from the worst of natural disasters that, if we only take what we need, generations after us will also be fed from the same food baskets. Our farmers are organic by default and organic farming will be our future."

The Prime Minister's address was followed by opening remarks by representatives from the Delegation of the European Union for the Pacific, the Sustainable Economic Development and Trade Department of the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States, the South Pacific Tourism Organisation (SPTO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), CTA and the Pacific Islands Private Sector Organisation (PIPSO).

Mereia VolavolaMereia Volavola, CEO of PIPSO, shares success stories in Pacific agribusiness.This was followed by a panel discussing policies and markets to p romote opportunities for investment in local and regional markets. Moderated by H.E. Dr Pa'olelei Luteru, Ambassador of Samoa to Europe and Coordinator of the ACP Small Islands Developing States Platform, panel members presented numerous success stories. PIPSO's CEO, Mereia Volavola, recounted stories about Ben's Trading in Fiji, Heilala Vanilla in Tonga, Amruqa in Papua New Guinea, Titikaveka Growers Association in the Cook Islands and many others. Henry Sanday, Private Sector Development Advisor to the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG), emphasised the need for agriculture, trade, tourism and health linkages as well as an increased dialogue and collaboration in the informal sector. Nature's Way Cooperative's CEO, Michael Finau Brown, and James Douglas, owner of Niue's Fresh Hydroponics, shared their stories highlighting what has worked and what hasn't for them so far. The first session was concluded by Desmond Lee-Hang from the National University of Samoa, who presented critical and alarming statistics about populations at risk and consumption trends published in the Samoa Rapid Country Scan, a project conducted in partnership with CTA in 2015.

A second session before lunch focused on strengthening the organisation of value-chain actors for improved market access. Moderated by IFAD's Country Director for the Asia and Pacific region, Ronald Hartman, panelists explored the ways in which their organisations and projects have effectively engaged with small-scale farmers to boost local and export production.

The afternoon session addressed the key issue of quality standards for value-added products. Moderated by Pacific Cooperation Foundation's CEO, Laulu Mac Leauanae, participants included Api Cegumalua from Fiji, Morag Webb from the Europe-Africa-Caribbean-Pacific Liaison Committee (COLEACP), Bob Wyllie of Vanuatu Direct. The session was wrapped up by Karen Mapusua of the Pacific Community, who provided anecdotal examples of Pacific's advances in going organic mainly in the tourism sector within the last few years.

P1020415 850Trainee chefs pose before they serve their contemporary, healthy and delicious 100% local island dishes.An evening session celebrated the launch of the CTA-PIPSO Grow Healthy project, which is funded by IFAD, followed by the much-awaited SPTO and STA-organised Chefs for Development dinner. Led by world-renowned chefs Colin Chung and Robert Oliver, the dinner showcased the resourcefulness of Pacific chefs and the delicious tropical flavours of contemporary island cuisines. Simply put, it was an authentic Pacific tasting experience that did not disappoint.

As we say in Samoan, La manuia le tausamiga [blessed feast]!

Stay connected

- Visit the web page of the 2nd Pacific Agribusiness Forum
See the photo gallery
- Follow the event live with hashtags #PacAgriBiz and #PacAgriTo
- Follow @CTAFlash and @PIPSOpacific on Twitter for regular updates