(contenu disponible en anglais uniquement)
Fiji President lauds organic certification effort
In recognition of Fiji’s Rotuma island seeking organic status, Fiji’s President, His Excellency Major General (Retired) Jioji Konrote hosted island representatives, the Fiji Ministry of Agriculture, organic certification partners and staff from the Pacific Community’s (SPC) Land Resources Division (LRD) at his official residence on April 12, 2021.
The organic effort in Rotuma is the result of a collaboration between the Itaukei Trust Fund Board, the Ministry of Agriculture, business and marketing consultant Matanataki and LRD. An expert team from LRD trained by the POETCom organic initiative in Participatory Guarantee System (PGS) organic certification visited Rotuma in late March to assess interest from the Island Council in starting the certification process.
During the Presidential event, His Excellency Konrote was briefed on an upcoming visit to Rotuma to discuss options for organic certification and business opportunities. While offering his support, His Excellency affirmed that the organic work starting in Rotuma is something for which he has been waiting a very long time. The initiative complements other campaigns, such as the Fiji Home Gardening Campaign, which President Konrote is currently spearheading.
The visit also included a brief on the Fiji National Organic Policy that has been finalised by the Fiji Organic Task Force of the Ministry of Agriculture for submission to cabinet.
Organic farming in Fiji provides a host of benefits, including healthier food, protection of biodiversity, climate change mitigation and adaptation, food and nutritional security, prevention of land degradation, and creation of employment opportunities. Going organic also empowers communities that are often neglected, such as women and youth.
Eleven farmers on Rotuma have expressed their interest in receiving organic certification. The LRD staff responsible for ensuring organic certification are all from the island. Fluency in island language, culture and traditions will help the team better understand the dynamics of certification, as well as successes and failures.
LRD’s certification guidance will cover organic pest management, soil improvement, open pollinated seed production, biosecurity and agronomy – all in collaboration with Ministry of Agriculture staff in Rotuma. The Ministry of Agriculture Land Use section has also visited Rotuma and that team’s recommendations will be integrated into the certification process.
An agreement to establish the Participatory Guarantee System has been made, and SPC is looking to May 2021 for signing the PGS licensing agreement during Rotuma Day celebrations on the island.