Vegetable farmers working in Tagabe Agricultural Farm in Vanuatu.
In a call for support of organics in the region, Pacific organic farmers and farmer organisations agreed on strengthening organic practices through the Regional Organic Policy Development initiative presented at the 5th Pacific Organic and Ethical Trade Community (POETCom) General Assembly.
Organised by the POETCom initiative of the Land Resources Division of the Pacific Community, the General Assembly, held virtually from 17th to 19th November, convened POETCom members and critical stakeholders to advance the movement in organics and sustainable agriculture development in the Pacific.
Speaking at the opening session Nambo Moses, Chairman of the POETCom Board said, "Organics is now. We have aligned ourselves to the UN Sustainable Development Goals, and we can fit our movement within all our Pacific Government priorities.” He concluded that, “through the persistence of the POETCom stakeholders, we now have organics in the policy development sector plans of our Pacific countries, be it agriculture, environment, health, trade or tourism. Organics and sustainable farming are the way forward.”
This regional Organic Policy Development is a goal of the Building Capacity for Non-State Actors to Lead Sustainable Agriculture Policy Development Project, in partnership with the Pacific Island Forum Secretariat. The General Assembly afforded an opportunity to establish national organic policy training objectives, as well as to set the stage for in-country Pacific organic stakeholder trainings.
“To me organic agriculture, based on the world organic principles of health, ecology, fairness, care and culture, is one of the best examples I know of that demonstrates interconnectedness, linking people, their communities and the environment at its core, and demonstrates the oneness we have with our environment and each other,” said Karen Mapusua, President of the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM Organics International) and SPC Land Resources Division Director.
Participants were also presented with findings from three key reviews: the review of the current governance of POETCom including Board and Secretariat responsibilities and Membership rights and representations; review of the Pacific Organic Guarantee System, the quality assurance system for all organic products branded under the Organic Pasifika organic brand; and the development of the guidebook for the Pacific Organic Standard, the rule book used by Pacific organic farmers that intend to use the Organic Pasifika brand.
The reviews will help to improve POETCom governance, strengthen ties within POETCom stakeholders and consequently the Pacific organic movement whilst also reinforcing the integrity of organic products labelled under the Organic Pasifika brand.
The event was organized with the financial support from Australian funded Building Prosperity for Women Producers, Processors and Women Owned Businesses project (BPWP) and the European Union.