With a third of the Pacific region’s population living in rural areas and relying on agriculture and fisheries based livelihoods, the importance of farmers’ organizations in the region was underlined as a significant development partner.

While speaking at the launch of the €4.8million African Caribbean Pacific (ACP) European Union (EU) and International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) Funded project – Farmer Organization for Africa, Caribbean and the Pacific (FO4ACP) yesterday, Minister for Agriculture, Rural and Maritime Development, Waterways and Environment, Dr. Mahendra Reddy said the role of farmer organizations was integral in supporting agricultural development.

“Agriculture
is the basic industry of most countries in the South Pacific and earnings from
agricultural production are one of the main source of livelihoods for rural
communities.”

“Farmers
organizations can also help leverage external financial support to up skill
farmers and assist in accessing mechanization support,” said Hon. Reddy.

He
elaborated the need to strengthen and provide resources to commercial farmers,
provide market access and facilitate the exchange of best practices to assist
in minimizing losses from pest and diseases, natural disasters and climate
change. 

Minister
Reddy stressed that Government alone could not facilitate and expedite this
urgent need, as the contribution of farmers’ organizations would ensure that
ownership of these development changes would take precedence among
organizations.

“There have been successful collaboration between Governments, development partners and the private sector in many parts of the world however in Fiji and the Pacific, the development of farmer organization and their contributions to the growth of our sectors has yet to reach its full potential,” said Reddy.

United Nations Resident-Coordinator, Sanaka Samarasinha said the role of farmer organizations offered a new paradigm for partnership in the Pacific.

“It
is exciting for the Pacific, as farmer-led enterprises look to improve
technical and economic services along the value chains as well as to influence
policies and business environments,” he said.

“The transformation of family farming and the development of sustainable, adaptive economic initiatives and farmer-led enterprises is now within reach for every Pacific farmer,” said Samarasinha.

In
welcoming the partnership, the Head of Cooperation of the European Union
Delegation for the Pacific, Christoph Wagner said FO4ACP will be active in nine
(9) Pacific Island countries in five years. 

“I am confident the project will help raise the capacity of farmer organizations to better serve their members and increase agricultural production across various sectors in the Pacific,” said Wagner. 

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