The Pacific Organic & Ethical Trade Community (POETCom) and the Pacific European Territories Regional Project for Sustainable Ecosystem Management (PROTEGE) project announced the launch of the first Pacific Organic Standard Guidebook, a pivotal tool to support and bring together farmers around sustainable development. From 4-11 July, both projects also held a regional workshop, gathering more than 30 participants, to identify organic agriculture’s challenges and successes in the Pacific region.
By producing high-quality food with low environmental impact, organic farming plays an essential role in developing a sustainable food system in the Pacific region. Despite their diversity, Pacific Island Countries and Territories (PICTs) share typical constraints - remoteness, geographic dispersion and vulnerability to natural hazards - that impede their efforts to achieve balanced economic growth and sustainable food security.
For one week, key players and actors in organic agriculture – such as stakeholders, partners and producers - were invited to participate in a workshop and share their views and expectations regarding the POETCom support and governance. Big first in the region: this event announced the launch of the first Pacific Organic Standard (POS) Guidebook. This tool describes the requirements for organic production and provides farmers with a comprehensive guide to growing and certifying organic produce.
“The POS includes many techniques used by sustainable agricultural approaches and is likely to help PICTs identify solutions to enhance organic agriculture. The guidebook provides techniques to compost, avoid using fertilizers, and maintain long-term soil fertility. The 17 PITCs are at a different stage: some have resources and embraced organics; others lack capacities and are still at the research stage. The POS will guide them to face new challenges and enhance sustainable agriculture.” explains Sashi Kiran, Chair of the POETCom Board.
Beyond this announcement, the workshop also included a series of recommendations for the governance structure of the POETCom to reinforce its leading role in regional organic agriculture development. As the POETCom is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, marked by solid growth of organic agriculture in the region and its membership, it was necessary to review the functioning of its governance and POS management. Among the developments discussed, regional governments should be more involved in coordinating public actions and policies with POETCom.
Organic agriculture also calls for coherent policies that support sustainable food systems and incentivize better farming practices: the workshop included training to help decision-makers enhance national action plans and policies toward sustainable production and consumption.
“The meeting built some strong consensus around both technical aspects of organic certification in the Pacific region and how this important sector could be governed to ensure all voices at the table – farmers, governments, policymakers, and consumers. All those who don’t only want safe, healthy food, but want it produced in a way that protects and nurtures our Blue Pacific ecosystems,” explains Karen Mapusua, Director of Land Resources Division of SPC, President of the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements World board.
As the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change recognizes the vital link between agriculture, soil and climate change, organic agriculture appears as a critical pillar to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals in the Pacific region. To face these challenges, the POETCom and the PROTEGE project deployed a series of activities and actions aiming at enhancing organic farming practices in PICTs. Funded by the European Development Fund 11, the Kiwa initiative, the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, these actions are likely to food security and sustainable economic development of local farmers.
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