"On my right shoulder, you will see a gold medal. It's our Pacific gold medal. For me it's a symbol of what we can achieve. Small as we are, under-resourced that we are but with true Pacific spirits and resilience, we can all become gold medallists." Speaking at the helm on the last day of the forum held at Apia's Tanoa Tusitala hotel, PIPSO's chairman, Howard Politini, emphasised that even small nations like those in the Pacific can achieve great things, as shown by Fiji's rugby sevens team, which made history by bringing back Olympic gold medals for the first time in Fiji.
The forum was declared open by Samoa's Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielerigaoi on Tuesday, who expressed his concerns about food security and the health crisis that we face in the Pacific. "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."
Approximately 100 attendees experienced an intensive four days of presentations, industry visits, deliberations and networking, beginning with a Women in Agribusiness workshop and the Pacific Women in Agribusiness launch that ran in parallel to a Chefs Training on Monday; and ending with working group discussions formulating plans, strategies and solutions which will be circulated to the participants for action straight after the forum.
One of the highlights in the forum was the dinner prepared by trainee chefs who underwent training with famous chefs Robert Oliver and Colin Chung. Organised by the South Pacific Tourism Organisation (SPTO) and the Samoa Tourism Authority (STA), and supported by PIPSO and CTA, more than 30 local chefs received completion certificates and prepared a dinner for the participants on Tuesday evening which showcased their talents, skills and creativity in utilising local ingredients for delicious contemporary island cuisines. The top-performing trainee chef received an award to visit the Caribbean and learn from her counterparts there. It was announced that more chefs in the Pacific will be awarded such scholarships through the Chefs for Development project also supported by CTA.
PIPSO's CEO, Mereia Volavola, emphasised throughout the forum that clear steps will be taken from the outcomes gathered. This forum has been a real opportunity to hear from stakeholders in the agribusiness and agritourism sectors, and identify key areas for development which will form components of PIPSO's support into these sectors. This will entail capacity building and linkages between farmers and the tourism industry in the Pacific; support for agritourism, women and youth in agribusiness; and encouraging the use of locally sourced food – priority areas that have come out of the forum.
His Excellency Paolelei Luteru, Samoa's Ambassador to the European Union and Coordinator of the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Small Islands Developing States platform, reiterated a similar message before he declared the forum closed. "This forum will not just be a talkfest. In the Pacific, action is needed. One of the key areas that has been highlighted this week was the call for more multisectoral and multistakeholder partnerships, as well as solutions that have a regional approach."
The 2nd Pacific Agribusiness Forum was organised by PIPSO, CTA and IFAD with the support of the European Union (EU), the ACP Secretariat, SPTO, STA, the Secretariat of the Pacific Community, the Samoan Chamber of Commerce and the Pacific Cooperation Foundation.
For more information, please contact:
Tel.: +31 (0)317 46 71 79
Maria Ronna Luna Pastorizo-¬Sekiguchi,
PIPSO Communications Consultant
Mobile: +679 7888 400