The inaugural Pacific Week of Agriculture (PWA) will be held during 16-20 October in Port Vila, Vanuatu. Hosted by the Government of Vanuatu, the event will explore strategies for boosting the agri-food sector, whilst increasing production of healthy food for local consumption and supplying the tourism market.
The PWA marks a new milestone in South-South cooperation and is largely inspired by the Caribbean Week of Agriculture, which was first launched in 1999. Whilst both regions face similar challenges typical to small island developing states (SIDS), from climate change, natural disasters, high food imports, small internal markets and reliance on a few export commodities, they also share similar opportunities in developing the agrifood sector.
With the overall theme of Pacific CROPs: Culture, Resilience, Opportunities, Products, Sustainability, the PWA will examine diverse approaches to sustainable development for the region, including strengthening agrifood and nutrition systems, promoting agritourism and other forms of agribusiness, encouraging climate-smart agriculture and stimulating finance for agriculture, ICT for agriculture and value chain development.
Nearly 200 participants are expected to attend including farmers and agri-entrepreneurs, Ministers of Agriculture and other senior government officials, as well as representatives from the private sector, civil society, agrifinance and development sectors, and the tourist and hospitality trade. Delegates from the Caribbean will be also attending, with support from CTA, which has been closely involved in promoting cross-learning between the two regions and is a key partner in supporting this first PWA.
“We are committed to the sustainable development of the Pacific agrifood sector, to supporting climate-smart agriculture solutions and agricultural innovation to increase access to affordable, locally-produced nutritious food. A strong agrifood sector is essential for job creation, economic growth and trade and for combatting non-communicable diseases and micronutrient deficiency in the Pacific,” says Michael Hailu, CTA Director.
CTA, in partnership with IFAD and PIPSO, will enable access to technical and finance services to assist small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), including youth enterprises, to innovate and grow their business. CTA will pilot an ‘Innovation Grant Credit Facility’ to help Pacific SMEs “make the next step”.
Identifying opportunities for young people will be a particular focus of the PWA, given the region’s large and growing population of under 25-year-olds and its high rate of youth unemployment, which currently stands at 25%. During the event, CTA will seek to gain commitment from partners for a regional action plan on youth entrepreneurship. Successful youth entrepreneurs from Africa, the Caribbean and Pacific will be attending as youth ambassadors, sharing critical success factors and lessons learned.
Other initiatives to be addressed during the week-long event include a regional agritourism roadmap, a regional Pacific Value Chain Coordinating/Agricultural Innovation platform for upgrading priority value chains, and a plan to strengthen the agriculture-nutrition nexus and enhance women’s empowerment in Vanuatu. Chefs will offer training courses during the week, showcasing nutritious dishes based on local food products.
The Pacific Week of Agriculture is hosted by the Government of Vanuatu.