A workshop training held in Nadi, Fiji this week seeks to strengthen access to market certification by improving the delivery, operations, implementation, and management of the Participatory Guarantee System (PGS) as a viable organic guarantee system for small rural sustainable farmers in the Pacific region.
The workshop is being hosted by the Pacific Community (SPC) and organised under the Pacific Organic and Ethical Trade Community (POETCom). Additional support is provided by the European Union through the Safe Agriculture, Trade Facilitation through Economic integration in the Pacific (SAFE Pacific); the Australian Government through the Building Prosperity for Women Producers, Processors and Women Owned Businesses (BPWP) Project; the Kiwa Initiative through the Pacific Organic Learning Farms Network Project, and the EU Protégé Project implemented in French territories.
PGS, an alternative to third-party certification, is easily adapted to local markets and short supply chains. Joining a PGS group is a cost-effective way for small-scale farmers to label and sell their organic produce as guaranteed organic in local markets. PGS enables farmers to access wider markets and earn premium prices for their products without the need for expensive third-party certification.
The keynote speaker, Honourable Vatimi Rayalu, Fiji Minister of Agriculture and Waterways, spoke on the implementation of PGS in Fiji. "The PGS is specially adapted to local markets and short supply chains,” he said. “In the area of organic agriculture, the Ministry of Agriculture in Fiji has established the Fiji Organic Task Force that has been working with the private sector, NGOs and farmer organisations to promote organic farming and to establish a national accrediting process and guidelines for organics in Fiji.”
In his opening address, Ratu Tevita Dawai, Team Leader for SAFE Pacific, shared that the Participatory Guarantee System is a valuable catalyst for development to support market organic certification through safe trade and food safety for the region as a whole.
Workshop participants will benefit from a range of sessions that cover the Pacific Organic Standard and the PGS Toolkit, the peer review process, and the steps to being certified by a PGS group. Participants will also visit the Tudreu farm and Lemana Vanilla farm – two organic farms that conduct peer reviews as part of their participation in the PGS group, of which they are members.
The workshop is an important forum for discussions on the challenges and opportunities of organic farming, innovation, and solutions. It presents an opportunity for organic farmers to learn from each other about the latest best practices, issues, and trends. By participating, organic farmers from the Pacific can access the tools, knowledge, and support needed to expand their farms and businesses.
POETCom is the peak body for organic movement in the Pacific region. It is a membership organization of farmers' associations, farmer support organisations, NGOs, private sector, and research institutions working with governments across the Pacific. POETCom is hosted by the Land Resources Division (LRD) of the Pacific Community (SPC) in Suva, Fiji.
POETCom is breaking new ground in the Organic movement, with a gender-inclusive people-centred approach that marks an important milestone in gender mainstreaming into the organic agriculture sector in the Pacific.