The first Pacific Week of Agriculture (PWA), organised by the Government of Vanuatu, FAO and the Pacific Community (SPC), came to an end on 20 October 2017 after three days of workshops and two days of meetings of Heads of Agriculture and Forestry (HOAFS) and Ministers of Agriculture and Forestry (MOAFS).
CTA actively supported the PWA by co-organizing several side events and facilitating the participation of 35 delegates from the Pacific, Africa and the Caribbean. For several years CTA has advocated the launch of a PWA to emulate the Caribbean Week of Agriculture, which began in 1999.
Between 16 and 20 October, the Pacific Week of Agriculture (PWA) brought together the region’s farmers, the private sector, government officials, development partners and representatives of international organisations, as well as the region’s Ministers of Agriculture to enhance the multi-actor dialogue for realising the full potential of agriculture in the Pacific. CTA partnered with the Ministries of Agriculture and Tourism of Vanuatu, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the Pacific Islands Private Sector Organisation (PIPSO), the Pacific Community (SPC) and the South Pacific Tourism Organisation (SPTO) to hold a series of workshops discussing mechanisms for increasing investment in the region’s young agripreneurs and agritourism, as well as opportunities to enhance agricultural innovation and nutrition-sensitive value chains.
Enabling environment for youth entrepreneurship
A quarter of the Pacific Island States’ population of 10 million is aged between 15 and 30. However, this young labour force has difficulties in entering the formal and informal employment markets in the Pacific. To explore options for attracting more young people to proactively engage in the region’s agricultural sector, CTA and partners held a high-level panel discussion on Promoting youth agri-entrepreneurship in the Pacific at the Congress Centre in Port Vila, Vanuatu. Participants agreed that bottom-up youth-driven policy planning, increasing access to innovative financial and support services and strengthening public-private and inter-ministerial partnerships, are the way forward to kick-start innovative youth-led business development. Sharing the success stories of such initiatives will attract additional investment to boost youth employment and create an enabling environment for youth entrepreneurship. Young people are the future of resilient economies and healthy, productive nations.
To address the nutrition-related health crisis linked to changing dietary habits and a population with more than 50% – and in some cases up to 90% – being overweight, it is essential that Pacific Island States take action. Bringing smallholder producers and other actors to work together on lucrative upstream activities offer opportunities for increasing access to affordable nutritious foods. Recognising the need to improve nutrition-sensitive value chains, CTA, IFAD and PIPSO held the interactive workshop: Promoting nutritious food systems in the Pacific: Priority value chain/agricultural innovation platforms. The event built the foundation for fostering the shared commitment of key actors to joint actions that enhance the performance of agricultural value chains and provide sustainable income and growth opportunities for farmers and other stakeholders.
A call to support the development of agrotourism
One area that can invigorate growth in the agricultural sector and mobilise young people, local farmers and other value chain actors, is agri-tourism. CTA has been highlighting the potential of agri-tourism markets in the Pacific since 2014. To progress discussions on this topic, CTA and partners also organised a PWA workshop on New opportunities in the agritourism sector in the Pacific. Participants of the session issued a call for Pacific Ministers of Agriculture to support the development of new agritourism markets and strengthen existing domestic markets by encouraging chefs to locally source ingredients and promote Pacific cuisine as well as support small-scale farmers and processors to improve packaging and labelling and meet quality and food safety standards.
CTA took the opportunity of the HOAFS and Ministers’ meetings to confirm its commitment to working with partners to implement the PWA recommendations. Samoa will host the next PWA in 2019.