The EDF-11-funded PROTEGE project has not escaped the health crisis. Regional activities have been particularly hard hit by border closings and the implementation of PROTEGE activities has been significantly delayed by COVID-19.
And yet, in the current situation PROTEGE, which is part of the European Union’s “Green Deal”, is more relevant than ever given its objectives to strengthen the territories’ resilience and promote their sustainable economic development based on proper natural resource use and management.
Rooted in those goals, the project’s Agriculture and Forestry component is designed to encourage an agroecological transition to climate-change-adapted and biodiversity-friendly farming, particularly organic.
This goal will be achieved, in large part, by establishing a regional network of demonstration farms using innovation practices that comply with agroecological principles, based on farmers’ knowledge and skills.
As of July 2020, the regional farm network is operational since New Caledonia has 15 specially selected farms, French Polynesia has 7 farms, and Wallis & Futuna is in the process of issuing a request for proposals.
The network’s ultimate aim is to help both plant- and animal-based agricultural systems move towards agroecology and organic farming so as to achieve greater independence from imported inputs, broader functional and crop biodiversity, better management of resources such as water and soil, enhanced climate-change resilience, and stronger food security.
So the network will have to demonstrate the technical, economic and social viability of agroecological systems tailored to the realities of a wide and varied range of stakeholders such as family/subsistence farmers, professionals, those involved in agricultural training, and community decision-makers.