A leading-edge training held in Nadi, Fiji this week aims to equip participants with essential skills and knowledge on utilising the transformative Tool for Agroecological Performance Evaluation (TAPE) throughout Pacific island farms.
The training has brought together government officials and organic farmers from Fiji, Solomon Islands, Nauru, and Tonga. TAPE is a cutting-edge framework developed by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) that offers a comprehensive evaluation of agroecological practices on farms in order to maximise their environmental, social, and economic performance. It encapsulates key performance elements such as biodiversity conservation, soil management, water conservation, resource efficiency, and community cohesion, to determine the overall sustainability of agricultural systems.
The event is being organised by the Pacific Organic and Learning Farms Network (POLFN) Project, along with the Pacific Community’s (SPC) Pacific Organic and Ethical Trade Community (POETCom) initiative and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations.
Ms Karen Mapusua, Land Resources Division Director for SPC, shared in her opening remarks that she was first introduced to the TAPE methodology when she served on the IFOAM Organics International World Board when it was in its developmental stages. “I am proud to see POETCom continuing its legacy of innovation and breaking new ground through introducing the TAPE methodology and building capacity for us to evaluate our impact on farms with farmers. This will support POETCom to improve their services in assisting members and farmers in accessing regional markets and will provide valuable data to assist in raising awareness with Government ministries on organic agriculture and sustainable farming.”
The training is supported by the Kiwa Initiative through the POLFN Project is funded by the European Union, Agence française de Développement (AFD), Global Affairs Canada (GAC), Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and New Zealand's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT). Kiwa's implementing partners include the Pacific Community (SPC), the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme(SPREP) and the Oceania Regional Office of the International Union for Conservation of Nature(IUCN).
Amena Banuve, Senior Research Officer with the Koronivia Research Station at Fiji’s Ministry of Agriculture and Waterworks shared in his keynote address, “This week, we will delve into the TAPE tool available for evaluating the performance of agroecological practices in organic farms across the Pacific. This tool in the end will empower our farmers to assess and improve their practices, ensuring sustainable and resilient agricultural systems.”
Training participants will engage in immersive sessions and practical exercises that demonstrate the application of the TAPE Tool in the Pacific. They will learn how to assess agroecological performance, identify areas for improvement, and implement strategies tailored to individual farm settings.
This week’s event is key to the POLFN efforts to establish farms and assist organic farmers in Nauru, Tonga, Solomon Islands and Fiji. By utilising the TAPE Tool, participants can enhance the capacity of their agricultural sectors to help mitigate climate change, preserve biodiversity, address the prevalence of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) and improve livelihoods.
As the first regional project of the Kiwa Initiative, POLFN is implemented by SPC and aims to meet the climate resilience and capacity-building needs of smallholder farmers in Fiji, Nauru, Tonga and the Solomon Islands. The project will develop an organic farm network, with individual farms serving as learning centres to demonstrate the benefits of nature-based solutions such as agroecology, agroforestry and organic production methods and technologies.
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.