Fiji will strengthen technical capacity in the field of agriculture and food security following discussions held in Rome between the Fijian Minister for Agriculture, Rural and Maritime Development and National Disaster Management and Meteorological Services and the Food and Agriculture Organisation’s Director General Jose Graziano da Silva.
During bilateral talks held at the FAO headquarters, Minister Seruiratu agreed to proposals by the Director General for the FAO to provide technical training in Rome for Fijians especially those in the agriculture sector and those Fijians working at the FAO country office in FIJI. Minister Seruiratu agreed that there was a strong desire by the Ministry of Agriculture for officials to be trained and exposed at the international level and also to be encouraged to take positions at various international and regional organisations. He added that with the growing threat of climate change impact on food security, there was a need to provide training for officials. He also reiterated the need for Fiji to fully explore the services provided by FAO which Fiji can benefit from.
This week’s meeting, held at the margins of the 159th Session of the FAO Council, saw the Director General commend Fiji’s Chairmanship of the 34th Session of the Asia Pacific Conference (APRC) which was held in Nadi on April 2018. He commended Minister Seruiratu for presenting to the Council the Report of the 34th Session of the FAO APRC. He stated that this was the first time for reports from the regional conference to be presented during the Council meeting. This was usually done during the FAO Conference does not give time for member countries to make comments on the report. The Director General added that the number of comments made on the report during its presentation to the Council meeting reflected the need to have an inclusive and comprehensive document that will provide clear guidance to FAO’s activities in the region.
Fiji, as the current Chairman of the Asia Pacific Regional Conference, was requested by the FAO Director General to follow up on the decentralization of FAO offices in the Pacific region. Following up on the APRC meeting in Nadi, it was noted that there was a need to establish more country offices especially in the Pacific. This is to address the issue of serving the region efficiently and economically and not to divide the Pacific unity as indicated by some member countries.
In terms of the Director General’s experience during his field visit in Fiji during the APRC, he noted the impact of flooding on farms especially the removal of top soil, the loss on soil fertility and soil pollution. He proposed that Fiji should use permanent retention tools or ecological tools to maintain its soil. Hon. Seruiratu informed the Director General that he is also meeting the FAO Soil and Water experts at FAO Headquarters to seek their technical guidance on this issue.
Seruiratu was joined by Fiji’s Ambassador in Belgium and Permanent Representative to the FAO, Ambassador Deo Saran and senior officials from the Ministry of Agriculture.