A three-day event being staged in Fiji by the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA), the Pacific Private Sector Organisation (PIPSO) and the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) aims to explore opportunities for increasing rural revenues and improving local health by promoting agribusiness linked to the tourism sector.
The Agribusiness Forum: Linking the agrifood sector to the tourism-related markets, will run from July 1 to 3 as part of the Pacific Community Agritourism Week, being held in Nadi from June 29 June to July 3.
The first such event to be held in the Pacific, the Forum is an annual initiative launched at the UN SIDS Conference held in Samoa in September 2014 by CTA and the Pacific Private Sector Organisation (PIPSO). It is part of a CTA strategy to encourage agribusiness for island communities in ACP regions as a source of sustainable development.
Many of these face similar challenges, including declining revenues from agriculture, small-scale economies, remote locations that are vulnerable to climate change and a strong reliance on imported food, with negative repercussions on local health and revenues.
The Agribusiness Forum, which is being jointly organised by CTA, PIPSO and SPC will investigate the scope for sharing knowledge and experiences between small island states in the Caribbean and Indian Ocean and the Pacific regions, as part of the Intra ACP Agricultural Policy Programme, of which CTA is a key partner.
A major focus of the Forum will involve finding ways to boost agribusiness by linking local production to the rapidly developing growing tourism industry. The meeting will address how to fill knowledge and data gaps in the agribusiness sector and will identify the support needed to strengthen links between the various actors in the value chain - small-scale farmers, processors, finance institutions and tourism and hospitality sector officials.
Products with strong potential for driving growth in the agribusiness sector of the Pacific region include food sourced from local crops, livestock and fisheries, as well as beverages, crafts, cosmetics, flowers, ornamentals and essential oils. Other income generating opportunities include agritourism accommodation, farm and vineyard tours, visits to agricultural processing and plantation activities and agriculture fairs and festivals.
A strong theme during the Forum will be addressing the current mismatch of supply and demand between small-scale producers and the hospitality trade and improving quality and reliability throughout the supply chain. Visitors to the Pacific islands have increased steadily in recent years and total revenues from tourism in the region are expected to nearly double to US$4 billion (€3.58 billion) by 2019. However, in spite of the scope that this burgeoning trade offers to local producers, up to 80 per cent of the food used in the tourism sector is currently imported.
"CTA is delighted to host this Forum with SPC and PIPSO. The Forum will highlight successes in strengthening links between the agriculture and tourism industries in the Pacific region, especially with the aim of promoting local sourcing and decreasing the huge import bill of most countries in the region," said CTA Director Michael Hailu. "The meeting will analyse and discuss successful business models in linking agriculture and fisheries to the tourism industry for improved market access, local income generation and regional trade."
"With the increasing emphasis by Pacific Island governments to support and grow the agriculture industry, it's important for the private sector to be fully aware of the industries connected to the agriculture industry," said Mereia Volavola, CEO of PIPSO. "This Agribusiness Forum brings in private sector businesses from both industries, including government officials, to discuss ways on how trade opportunities can be enhanced and supported. The time has come for all hotels in the Pacific to be using local foods in their menu. This will assist in the reduction of the importation bill in some of the Pacific Islands."
The rich programme planned for the farmers, chefs, private sector representatives, policy-makers, researchers and international development practitioners attending the Agribusiness Forum includes sessions on opportunities for the Pacific agrifood sector in tourist markets, linking fisheries to tourist markets, strengthening agribusiness information and collaboration with development and financial partners. Success stories and lessons learned will feature strongly at the Forum, which will also present an agrifood trade display, a buyer-seller exchange and cooking demonstrations by top chefs using local products.
A team of young social reporters supported by CTA and SPC will be producing daily blogs on the Fiji event.
Stéphane Gambier, Senior Programme Coordinator Communication
Tel.: +31 (0)317 46 71 79
Anju Mangal, Knowledge Management Specialist
Tel.: +679 9925 766
Erica Lee, Communications and Research Officer
Tel.: +679 9214 638