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Partnerships for sustainable development

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The second Pacific Week of Agriculture (PWA) explorse how dynamic partnerships can help to address some of the major challenges facing the agri-food sector in small island states in the region. Being held in Apia, Samoa from 30 September to 4 October 2019, the theme of PWA 2019 is "Enhanced partnerships for sustainable agriculture and forestry systems in the Pacific". The event follows the inaugural Pacific Week of Agriculture held in Vanuatu in October 2017.

“We are very pleased to see that the Pacific Week of Agriculture is becoming an important regional forum, since we had promoted the concept of a major unified event for agriculture stakeholders for a long time, and were instrumental in developing it, in partnership with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the Pacific Community,” said CTA Director Michael Hailu, who opened the CTA Innov4AgPacific workshop on 30 September. “CTA is strongly committed to the sustainable development of the Pacific agri-food system”, he added. “Increasing the supply of and access to affordable locally produced nutritious food is of paramount importance in combatting non-communicable diseases and micronutrient deficiency in the region.”

Echoing the theme of working together, the project "Promoting nutritious food systems in the Pacific Islands" – which seeks to increase rural people’s access to nutritious and healthy food by promoting local food crops and fisheries value chains in seven Pacific countries –has a strong presence at the PWA.

Now in its fourth and final year, the project is led by CTA and co-funded by the International Fund for Agricultural Development, and implemented in partnership with the Pacific Islands Private Sector Organisation. The focus across the board of project activities is promoting cross-sectoral and multi-stakeholder engagement to help develop and upgrade value chains for improved nutrition and incomes.

The regional cross learning and integrated business plan write shop was the first of a rich programme of side events planned by the project during the PWA. The workshop has been designed to promote partnerships and joint learning across the various interventions, organisations and countries involved in the project. During the week, participants will be documenting their experiences in developing value chains for nutritious local products, and write business plans to attract funding aimed at upscaling the most successful initiatives.

“This week is an opportunity to learn what we have done, what we have achieved, and where we want to go together,” said Judith Francis, Senior Programme Coordinator of Science and Technology Policy at CTA and leader of the project, which targets Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu.

Pacific island states share a number of challenges that make them uniquely vulnerable to food insecurity and poor nutrition. These include limited land, fragile natural environments, high vulnerability to climate change and a strong dependence on food imports, which is fueling a range of diet related health problems. A rapid rise in overweight, obesity and associated non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in the Pacific over the past three decades has had a devastating effect on public health. Pacific countries now account for the top seven most obese countries in the world, and for seven out of ten countries with the world’s highest prevalence of diabetes.

However, a key finding from the project is that NCDs are both preventable and reversible if concerted and targeted efforts are made to improve nutrition, particularly by developing value chains based on nutritious Pacific foods – a strategy that can also help to drive the economy. Organising Pacific farmers is key to value chain development, and transforming Pacific agri-food systems can play a critical role in empowering women and youth, project research has shown. Strong partnerships between the public and private sectors, together with producers, can be powerful catalysts for improved nutrition and incomes.

Assessing progress, impacts and lessons learned during project implementation will be a major focus during this week’s event in Samoa. Among initiatives being reviewed are:

  • Capacity building for organisations and individuals
  • Promoting innovation in Pacific small and medium enterprises
  • Scaling up community nutrition
  • Scaling up information and communications technologies for agriculture (ICT4Ag) innovations.

“One thing we have learned is that no single individual or organisation can do it alone”, said Judith Francis. “We have adopted a multi-sectoral approach, and now we want to take it to the next level. We are here this week to see how we can scale it up. Together we can go much further.”

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Alliances for action: resilience and sustainability

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Building consensus among a wide range of players will play a critical role in shaping sustainable solutions for Pacific problems, and ensuring a sense of ownership for new policies and strategies. That is the message from a side event to the Pacific Week of Agriculture (PWA), "Building resilience in Pacific agri-food/nutritious systems: Towards regional alliances for action".

A call for integrated action to bring about healthy food systems in Fiji

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At the International Symposium on Understanding the Double Burden of Malnutrition for Effective Interventions, held in Vienna in December 2018, a multi-sectorial approach was called for to improve nutritional outcomes for Fiji, and the wider Pacific.

Mapping value chains for healthier diets and higher revenues

A strategy to build efficient value chains in the Pacific region is expected to play a critical role in improving diets and revenues for island communities.

A dynamic future for young agripreneurs

Among the numerous topics addressed during the inaugural Pacific Week of Agriculture in Port Vila, Vanuatu from October 16-20, the place of young people into agribusiness ventures has caught a lot of attention. A concrete way to bring new incomes in Pacific Island states and to fight youth unemployment and rural exodus.

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