8 May 2012, Secretariat of the Pacific Community, Suva, Fiji
A meeting to progress the work of the Pacific organic and ethical trade movement is being held in Papeete, French Polynesia, from 3 to 8 May. It has been coordinated by the Pacific Organic and Ethical Trade Community (POETCom) under SPC’s Increasing Agricultural Commodity and Trade (IACT) project. The meeting is jointly funded by the Government of French Polynesia (French Pacific Fund) and the European Union funded IACT project.
POETCom members from 10 Pacific Island countries, representing various parts of the organic and ethical trade movement from smallholder producers to exporters, certifiers and ministries of agriculture, are attending.
The vision of the Pacific organics movement is “Pacific organics and ethical trade – the key contributor to sustaining our cultures and improving farmer livelihoods, communities, people’s health and the environment in the Pacific”.
French Polynesia’s Minister of Agriculture, the Hon. Kalani Teixeiria, who was an official guest at the workshop opening, said: “What a great mission we have to be a farmer – to feed children and families. But we made a mistake − we didn’t respect nature and now we must find solutions.”
This is the first regional meeting on organic agriculture to be instigated and supported to such a large extent by a Pacific Island government. SPC noted the example of a successful public-private partnership demonstrated by the Government of French Polynesia in working together with local POETCom members to plan and run the event.
Also attending were Senator Tuheiava, the presidents of the Chamber of Commerce and Chamber of Agriculture, the president and members of the recently formed participatory guarantee system (PGS) association, Bio Fetia, and POETCom founding member and Niue Speaker of the House, the Hon. Ahohiva Levi.
In his message to the meeting, the Prime Minster of Samoa, the Hon. Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi, who is Chairman of the Pacific High Level Organic Group, said: “This meeting marks a turning point for POETCom and there is a significant amount of work ahead of you. I am confident, however, given your achievements of the past several years, that with your combined abilities and commitment, and the continued support of our donor partners, you will achieve your goals for the benefit of not only the organic farmers of the Pacific but all peoples of our vast region.”
The key aims of the six-day meeting are to formalise a governance structure for POETCom and establish the first governing board and a broad-based, inclusive membership structure. This will set the stage for sound governance and management of regional organic certification systems and the continued growth and development of organic production in the region. Other matters to be considered include developing coordinated approaches to climate change issues and food and nutritional security and clarifying short-term objectives with regard to improving production and building capacity at farmer level in organic agriculture through research, training and enhanced information sharing amongst producers.
For more information on POETCom and Pacific organics, please contact Ms Karen Mapusua:
or LRD Information Officer Emil Adams:
(Photo caption: French Polynesia's Minister of Agriculture, Hon Kalani Teixeiria, at a press conference after workshop opening)