As COVID-19 shapes and re-shapes the “new normal” in the Pacific, organic food and products will be a key to community adaptation and resiliency in the region’s economies and livelihoods, with the opportunity to advance a more inclusive gender and people centred approach.
The POETCom initiative, under the SPC’s Land Resources Division, has recognized this by taking the next step in its Building Prosperity for Women Producers, Processors, and Women Owned Businesses through Organic Value Chains (BPWP) project, a collaboration with the Australian Government. The project seeks to empower women for greater access to sustainable livelihoods through participation in organic value chains.
POETCom has developed a toolkit for organic value chain assessment as part of the BPWP project. The kit was trialled in September 2020 at a workshop in Suva. Due to travel restrictions as a result of COVID-19, the project is trialling its toolkits in Fiji before implementing with partners in project countries.
Cicia Organic Monitoring Agency representative and POETCom member Petero Ratucove concluded, “This workshop helped recognize and act on the importance of designing implementations and interventions that account for the roles of women that would have otherwise been neglected in the overall economic development of any community. We need to communicate the importance of gender equity and ensure that we have more equitable distribution of ownership levels of engagement in decision making processes.”
The toolkit will help POETCom staff and partners deepen their knowledge and skills in gender and social inclusion mainstreaming, while guiding them to apply a gender lens to an organic value chain analysis or assessment.
The project works with individuals, families, producers and vendors, as well as organic governance structures. The four expected outcomes are:
- Women have increased financial independence and influence in decision-making within the household.
- Women are increasingly participating in organic value chains, including decision making processes.
- Women and men benefit from viable organic value chains that meet market needs and increase food security.
- The Pacific organic sector has more gender equitable policies and practices.
Building Prosperity for Women Producers, Processors, and Women Owned Businesses through Organic Value Chains launched in October 2018 and is being implemented in three phases over four years; initially working in the Republic of Marshall Islands and Palau with later activities planned for Kiribati and the Federated States of Micronesia
The workshop feedback is helping the POETCom team revise and finalise the working version of toolkit. The kit will then be applied by POETCom members to ensure challenges, opportunities and entry-points for women are identified and developed to secure equitable and equal benefits from organic agriculture. POETCom hopes to launch the finalised version of the project toolkit later in 2021 after trials in project countries.