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Remarks by SPC Deputy Director-General, Dr Audrey Aumua
JOINT FAO AND SPC PACIFIC MINISTERS OF AGRICULTURE AND FORESTRY MEETING
Samoa Pacific Week of Agriculture, 4th October 2019
Honourable Prime Minister
Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi, Ministers of Agriculture and Forestry,
Honourable Lopaoo Natanielu Mua, Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries for Samoa,
Cabinet Ministers of the Government of Samoa,
Ministers and representatives of our Pacific Island Countries and Territories,
FAO Assistant Director General Ms Kundhavi Kadiresan
International development partners, CROP partners, research institutions and representatives from CSOs and NGO’s
As we gather here in Samoa during this Pacific Week of Agriculture, it’s good to take a moment and think about all the elements that must come together for the food we put on our dinner tables every day.
From the farmers and the fisherman, from transport to the small sellers and larger grocery stores. The seed banks, harvesting equipment, energy infrastructure, maritime and ports infrastructure. The critical role of education systems, and the vital contribution of government regulatory policy and support. The food on our plate represents a coordinated effort of many individuals, organizations and communities.
I hope you have all had a chance to visit the many displays and booths set up across the street, which really celebrate the incredible variety and diversity of the Pacific’s agriculture. A walk through these many displays shows us how interconnected agriculture is, and brings home the importance of partnerships in this field. Cooperation across and between organizations in support of Pacific agriculture is not just a nice thing to do- it is essential.
The members of the Pacific Community have had a long-standing commitment to agriculture, which has remained a priority for our organization from its very foundation. SPC is doing critical - and fascinating- work to support our members agricultural priorities. For example,
LRD’s Pacific Seeds for Life program is helping to improve the distribution of plant accessions and is helping counties develop their national seed systems.
The LRD and FAME Biosecurity and Safe Trade integrated program, is helping to ensure biosecurity laws are revised in line with international regulatory standards, and that exports and imports can occur more readily.
And our ‘One Health’ strategy is focused on regenerative agricultural and forestry systems for healthy catchments and soils, which contribute to healthy livestock and cropping practices, leading to improved nutrition.
I could list many more efforts, and I urge you to read about the work we have undertaken in the past couple of years.
But we are not just focused on internal cooperation. In recent years, SPC has been engaged in what I like to think of as a new era of collaboration with our development partners, regionally and internationally. Key among these partnerships is our relationship with FAO. In fact, I think it is safe to say that FAO is one of our most important international partners in this area, so I am very pleased to be able to be here on this stage with them.
SPC’s emphasis on food systems means that we are better able to complement the work of FAO. Many of you were present I think for Wednesday’s FAO forum on “Nutrition Sensitive Pacific Food Systems”, which represents a great example of how well aligned we are in this approach.
Today is an opportunity to have wide-ranging discussions, but I want to emphasis in particular the paper on the upcoming 2020 International Year of Plant Health.
Our region is under increasing threat from the Coconut Rhino Beetle, Taro Leaf Blight, Coffee Berry borers, Cassava Brown Streak Disease, Fall Army worm, and Banana TR4. We have the opportunity to use the International Year of Plant Health to strengthen current platforms for enhancing awareness, build on networks of plant health, biosecurity, and quarantine, and improving warning systems, preparation, and response capacities and capabilities in our countries.Ministers, partners and
collaborators, SPC welcomes the opportunity to partner and work closely with you to ensure the International Year of Plant Health has a lasting legacy in this region. We will continue to provide our integrated programmes and expertise in support of our membership, and we will look to strengthen the partnerships we have in place to maximize the impact of our work.
Working together, I am confident that dinner tables across the Pacific can continue to provide healthy, sustainable meals for generations to come.
On behalf of the Pacific Community and our Director-General, Dr. Colin Tukuitonga, I want to thank the Government of Samoa and acknowledge the leadership of Minister Mua in preparing for the Pacific Week of Agriculture.
I wish you well in your meeting deliberations and look forward to your guidance on how the Pacific Community and its partners can support your vision.