A significant milestone in the promotion of organic and agroecological approaches to the agricultural sector in Fiji was reached on Thursday, July 27 as The Pacific Community (SPC), through the Pacific Organic Learning Farms Network (POLFN) Project, officially launched two Fiji Organic Learning Farms. The launch was held on the Mudrenicagi Farm in Wainunu, Bua, Vanua Levu.
“The Organic Learning Farms Network holds immense potential not only for our agricultural community but also for our economy and public health,” said Fiji’s Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Waterways Tomasi Tunabuna in his keynote address. “Organic farming opens the door to new markets, both domestically and internationally, where consumers increasingly value sustainable and natural produce. It offers opportunities for income generation, empowering farmers and fostering rural development. And, above all, it promotes healthier lifestyles, instilling in our citizens the importance of nutrition and wellbeing.”
The POLFN Project is the first regional project supported by the Kiwa Initiative that is being implemented by the Pacific Organic and Ethical Trade Community (POETCom) initiative, housed at SPC. The Initiative 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). Regional implementing partners include SPC, the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) and the Oceania Regional Office of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
In his opening remarks, the French Ambassador to Fiji, H.E. Francois Xavier-Leger shared, “I believe that it is crucial to recognise the importance of organic farming in helping to adapt to Climate Change... Today’s launch is part of regional efforts to supporting hundreds of farmers in Fiji, Tonga, Solomon Islands and Nauru.”
The Fiji Organic Learning Farms Network launches with two demonstration farms – the Mudrenicagi Farm in Bua Province and the Navuso Farm in the Rewa Province. The farms will serve as learning centres, enabling interested farmers to gain knowledge and skills in organic and agroecological practices. Through this network, interested farmers will be exposed to innovative techniques that promote the health of soil, water, and biodiversity, without the use of chemical inputs.
POETCom aims to foster sustainable farming practices, increase food security, and empower local communities through capacity-building programs. Emosi Cagi, the POLFN In-Country Coordinator, stated, "The Fiji project launch will create an organic network that actively involves Fijian communities in the design, implementation and monitoring of Nature-based solutions that can enhance the effectiveness, sustainability and cultural appropriateness of these initiatives. It enables a collaborative, inclusive community-driven approach to address environmental challenges and build resilience in the face of a changing climate.”
The Fiji Organic Learning Farms Network launch is the result of a close collaborative effort from SPC, the Kiwa Initiative and the Fiji Government. The learning centres will be a hub for the transference of knowledge that will ensure a transition from current farming practices to those that are more agroecological, in particular organic practices. Thursday’s launch represents major step forward for the organic movement as it works towards the positive agroecological transformation of Pacific food systems.
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.