SPC supports organic certification training for Pacific farmers

Caption:?Participants and guests at the opening of the training on organic participatory guarantee systems in Nadi. From left to right (in garland): ?IACT Team Leader, Samu Turagacati; Fiji?s Permanent Secretary of Agriculture, Ropate Ligiari; IFAD Sub?regional Coordinator, Sakiusa Tubuna; and the President of the Fiji Organic Association, Sant Kumar.

Thursday 6 June 2013, Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), Nadi ??Participants from Fiji, Kiribati, Palau, Samoa and Vanuatu are undergoing a week-long training in Nadi on facilitation of organic participatory guarantee systems (PGS).

PGS aim to provide a credible organic guarantee to consumers seeking organic produce through direct participation of farmers and consumers in the organic guarantee process, and are based on recognised standards for organic production.

The training, which began on 3 June 2013, marked the first activity of a project funded by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and implemented by the Pacific Organic and Ethical Trade Community (POETCom) and the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC).

The aim of this project is to enhance the access of Pacific smallholder farmers to high value markets by obtaining the appropriate and recognised organic certification and support.

In launching the training, Fiji?s Permanent Secretary of Agriculture, Ropate Ligiari, said that the Government of Fiji recognises the potential and opportunity that organic farming provides to not only Fiji but the region.

?The opportunities lie in livelihoods and market opportunities and also in protecting our environment and ecosystems, mitigating and adapting to climate change, providing clean safe food for our people with sustainable production methods, and the very real issue of protecting our farmers from the dangers of agrochemicals,? he explained.

The training aims to build up human resources to support the development of PGS across the region.

In his comments, IFAD Sub?regional Coordinator, Sakiusa Tubuna stated, ?Agriculture provides more employment than any other sector in Pacific Island countries. It presents many opportunities for growth, domestically and for export, but is operating well below potential. IFAD is proud to support this grant project, which seeks to build on IFAD?s previous investment in promoting organic agriculture in the Pacific ? and further develop the access of poor rural Pacific farmers to organic certification and markets.??

SPC representative, Samu Turagacati, thanked IFAD for its assistance in providing a grant of USD 500,000 to support the project.

?IFAD has been a key partner for SPC and POETCom from the outset of the organics movement in the region, providing the initial grant that led to the development of the Pacific Organic Standard,? Turagacati added.

Three pilot groups of farmers from Cicia and Sabeto in Fiji and Abaiang in Kiribati will be supported through the project to become organically certified and develop their market opportunities through PGS. The products focused on are papaya, virgin coconut oil and cocosap sugar.

POETCom is the peak organics body for the Pacific region, and its secretariat is based at SPC with funding support from the European Union-funded IACT project.

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