Tuesday 29 May 2012, Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), Suva
The Pacific Organic and Ethical Trade Community (POETCom) meeting held in French Polynesia from 3 – 6 May ended on a high note with the establishment of an advisory board to take the organics body forward in achieving its vision: ‘Pacific organics — the key contributor to sustaining our cultures and improving farmer livelihoods, communities, people’s health and our environment’.
The POETCom meeting was funded by the French Pacific Fund of the Government of French Polynesia, with assistance provided by the EU-funded Increasing Agricultural Commodities Trade (IACT) project, which is implemented by the SPC Land Resources Division.
POETCom members from ten Pacific Island countries attended, representing different services along the organic and ethical trade value chain, from smallholders to exporters, certifiers and ministries of agriculture.
POETCom has developed a governance structure that was facilitated by an FAO Technical Cooperation Programme. The meeting elected the first POETCom advisory board, comprising Mr Anthony Brown (Chair), Director of Agriculture, Cook Islands; Mr Stephen Hazelman, Samoa; Mr Gilles Tehau Parzy, French Polynesia; Mr Nambo Moses, Vanuatu; and Ms Vanessa Lolohea, Tonga. The Board will be elected every two years at the general assembly of POETCom members.
The advisory board is tasked with ensuring sound governance and management of the regional organic guarantee system, which was also moved forward at the meeting, with the objective of facilitating increased access to various forms of organic certification to the Pacific Organic Standard. One of the primary tasks of the advisory board will be to raise awareness of POETCom and the work of the organic and ethical trade movement at national level, and expand the base of membership and interest.
The meeting also addressed cross-cutting issues such as biodiversity, climate change, and food and nutritional security.
Senator to the French Parliament, Hon Tuheiava, addressed the meeting, highlighting the role of organics in managing climate change. He also agreed to present a statement from POETCom about the role of organics in assessing climate change to key UN committees on which he serves to feed into the RIO+20 dialogue.
The Minister for Agriculture, Hon. Kalani Teixeira, gave a keynote address on food security and the value of traditional crops such as breadfruit, presenting a convincing argument that the Pacific can feed the world with its rich agro-biodiversity.
A highlight of the meeting was a day of field trips to organic farms belonging to the new participatory guarantee system (PGS), Bio Fetia, including a traditional ceremony to hand over the PGS documentation to POETCom for review. The ceremony was followed by an organic dinner which showcased the variety and quality of organic produce available in French Polynesia.
On the final day of the meeting, the President of French Polynesia, His Excellency Oscar Temaru, invited a small delegation from the meeting to meet with him at his office. The delegation included Cook Islands’ Associate Minister for Agriculture and Director of Agriculture; POETCom Advisory Board Chair Anthony Brown; Niue Speaker of the House, Hon. Ahohiva Levi; POETCom Coordinating Officer Karen Mapusua; and POETCom Founding Member and Executive Director of Women in Business Samoa, Adimaimalaga Tafunai. The delegation was joined by French Polynesia Minister for Agriculture, Hon. Kalani Teixeira, and Senator Tuheiava. Mrs Tafunai carried a letter from the Hon. Tuilaepa Malielagoi, Prime Minister of Samoa and Chair of the Pacific High Level Organics Group, inviting President Temaru to join this informal group of Pacific leaders who actively support and advocate for organic agriculture. The invitation was warmly accepted and president Temaru spoke enthusiastically about organics and the value of working together as a region to further our common interests.
For more information, contact Karen Mapusua, POETCom Secretariat, (Tel.: (679) 3370 733; email:
or LRD Information Officer, Emil Adams (
or visit the SPC website: www.spc.int.