The European Union Ambassador for the Pacific, His Excellency Andrew Jacobs says the EU is a strong supporter for agriculture development in Fiji and around the Pacific.
Ambassador Jacobs made the comments while opening the Pacific’s first ever debate on organic and conventional farming methods at the University of the South Pacific ICT Building in Suva on Tuesday.
”European Union is a strong supporter of the agriculture sector in Fiji and around the Pacific and we are supporting the development of organic agriculture,” Ambassador Jacobs told people gathered to witness the debate organised by the Pacific Organic and Ethical Trade Community (POETCom) supported by the European Union.
”Within its borders, the European Union spends more money on agriculture than on anything else, and the way in which the funds are spent has been under constant reform since the 1970s,” said Ambassador Jacobs.
In its most recent form, the Common Agricultural Policy of the European Union is about promoting diversity and quality, notably by supporting different types of farm and farming practices, and in particular family-run, conventional or organic practices. And we have been keen to provide similar support in the Pacific – hence our support to POETCom.
Ambassador Jacobs says the EU is seeking to open up commercial opportunities for organic farmers and such opportunities should exist not only in the private sector, but in the public sector as well. In this regard it is important to look at government procurement and state budgets in the Pacific as these are important drivers of economic growth.
”Organic farmers and association should not only engage with private sector but also with public sector and respond to their demands – the demand for organic food in hospitals, schools or for public functions,”
There is also significant potential to leverage further support towards organic agriculture enterprises through the regional co-operation programme that we are preparing for the period from now to 2020. The mechanics of the programme are now being discussed between the EU, PIFS and its member countries whereby specific areas will be identified for support before the end of 2015.
”As a development partner, we strongly encourage inclusive growth – growth that benefits large and small companies, particularly farmers and smallholders. And in that sense we welcome the POETCom approach in supporting the development of value chains closer to home which will no doubt benefit many small holders who do not yet have strategic access to markets, both domestic or international.” concluded Ambassador Jacobs.
2015 is the European Year for Development, which has enabled us to project several EU-development stories from the Pacific to the broader European and global population. We would certainly like to draw key stories from POETCom and share them with the global population. For example, Declaration by Cicia (Fiji) and Abaiang (Kiribati) declaring their whole islands as organic. This month’s theme for the European Year for Development is Food Security, which made Tuesday night’s debate very timely indeed.