The Pacific Community says it has received requests from eight island nations to help boost food security in the region amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
The SPC’s Deputy Director, Audrey Aumua, said the requests for plant tissue, culture materials and vegetable seeds came through its ‘Seeds For Life’ programme.
This week, Dr Aumua handed over seed kits to the Fiji government in Suva during the launch of the Community’s new regional initiatives under its Land Resources Division.
“A total of 166,000 kilogrammes of vegetable seeds and over 10,000 tissue culture seedlings and this request has come from our members,” she said. “We are expecting much more.”
Seeds For Life
The ‘Seeds for Life’ project was funded by the New Zealand government to the tune of $US2.7m and implemented by the Manaki Vanua Land Care Research in Fiji and the SPC.
Dr Aumua said the launch was timely as communities were in “dire need” of support in meeting their immediate food security needs due to disruptions in food supply chains caused by Covid-19 and widespread destruction of food gardens by Cyclone Harold across parts of Fiji, Vanuatu and Solomon Islands last month.
She said the project covered six Pacific countries including Kiribati, Samoa, Tonga, Fiji, Tuvalu and Vanuatu and aimed to address the food and nutrition Security of vulnerable communities.
“The Pacific Community remains committed to working with our member states to achieve their development aspirations. Agriculture and forestry play a significant role in sustaining livelihoods, food and nutrition security and enhancing resilience for most of our vulnerable Pacific communities.
“The projects launched today are examples of how we can respond to changing conditions, prepare to build a new level of resilience and achieve our common goals for food secure, healthy Pacific people and sustainable communities.”
Fiji’s Agriculture Ministry said during the first phase of the programme last month, it distributed seeds to farmers, business owners and locals to encourage the public to grow their own food.
Agriculture Minister Mahendra Reddy said the assistance from the Pacific Community would help build resilience in the sector and boost food security.
Dr Reddy said Fiji’s agricultural sector suffered $US16 million in losses due to the pandemic and the recent damage to food gardens and plantations caused by Cyclone Harold.
He said the Australia government had also funded the Centre of the Pacific Crops and Trees programme in Fiji.