Policy-BanksOnline Agriculture Policy Banks are ushering in a new era of access to information that is benefitting individual producers and promoting growth in the Pacific region’s agricultural sector.

At a recent workshop in Suva, organised by the European Union-supported Pacific Agriculture Policy Project and the Pacific Community (SPC), countries heard how Agriculture Policy Banks are already delivering significant benefits.

Vanuatu and Solomon Islands, who were among the first countries to trial and launch these Banks in the past six months, recounted that these Banks enabled them to communicate and transmit agriculture policy documents easily to other government departments, businesses, farmers and development partners.

Mark Vurobaravu, who manages the Policy Bank at the Vanuatu Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock, stated that “this Bank has already made our work easier engaging with stakeholders and has freed-up time enabling us to start translating our documents also to Bislama and French. All documents are in the Bank and available to everyone.”

Representatives from 10 Pacific countries, including farmer organisations, regional development partners and private sector organisations, gathered recently at SPC to help build Agriculture Policy Banks for their countries and to discuss and design mechanisms for stronger regional information exchange and national outreach.

Opening the workshop, Dr Audrey Aumua, Deputy Director General of SPC stated, “it was very positive to note that the important agriculture sector was leveraging on information and communication technology and knowledge management to help develop the important agricultural sector.”

“Repositories of policy information or Policy Banks for 15 ACP countries, including Timor-Leste, are now available online, meaning anyone from anywhere can access these documents,” Dr Aumua said.

The week culminated in a showcase of the new Policy Banks to various development partners, private sector representatives and Suva-based diplomatic missions.

Pacific countries will now focus on a number of agreed actions to further build the momentum of these knowledge management initiatives. These included the design of national outreach plans and initiatives to promote regional complementary work.

It is intended that this work will be presented to the SPC and United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) Ministers of Agriculture meeting scheduled during the first-ever Pacific Week of Agriculture, to be held in Vanuatu in May 2017.

The Deputy Chief of Mission for the Federated States of Micronesia, Wilson F. Waguk, and H.E. Roving Ambassador Corporate Matai Kaukilakeba from the Fiji Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation were also present at the showcase.

The Deputy Head of Mission of the French Embassy to Fiji, Jules Irrmann, who officiated at the showcase, stated that such portals encourage complementary efforts and the need for countries to work together to promote the agriculture sector.

“Agriculture is a very important topic here. With the e-agriculture policy bank, I was very impressed with what I’ve seen so far. Each time you want to make a policy you can check what the other countries are doing,” Mr Irrmann stated.

“It is very important for the farmers to have direct access to those documents. Instead of taking hours to go to ministries and get the results – now they can receive them on their mobile phone,” he added.

SPC’s Agricultural Policy Adviser, Vili Caniogo, who is helping lead this work at SPC, stated that the Policy Banks not only provide easy public access to a range of information, but are a vital tool enabling further complementary work among regions.

He stated that countries and development partners had talked about collaboration in the sector for a long time but often were hampered by the lack of a tool or a medium to facilitate this. He noted that a key aim of the Policy Banks was to provide a simple tool to facilitate this.

This work is funded by the European Union Pacific Agriculture Policy Project, the Pacific component of the Intra-ACP Agricultural Policy Program (APP), which targets the Pacific and Caribbean regions. The Netherlands-based Centre for Technical Cooperation for Agriculture (CTA) is a project partner.

The European Union is supporting Pacific countries through the Pacific Community (SPC) to better organise agricultural policy and planning information by making information widely accessible to all stakeholders.

The Agriculture Policy Banks can be accessed via the PAFPnet website.

Media contact:
Ms Salome Tukuafu – Information and Communications Management Officer, SPC Pacific Agriculture Policy Project (PAPP), [email protected]

Technical contacts:
Ms Anju Mangal – Knowledge Management Specialist, SPC Pacific Agriculture Policy Project (PAPP), [email protected]