|Organic Movement offers solutions to SIDS Conference|
|Friday, 24 October 2014 00:00|
The Pacific Organic and Ethical Trade Community (POETCom) worked with the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements to host a side event at the SIDS Conference in Samoa in September entitled Organic Islands - Role and Potential of Organic Agriculture for sustainable development. The event was co hosted by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community, the Government of Samoa, the International Fund for Agricultural Development and Women in Business Development.
Over 160 delegates attended the Organic Islands event which aimed to demonstrate the potential for Organic Agriculture as a tool for sustainable economic development in small island developing states showcasing the impact of a variety of organic agriculture based partnerships from building social capital at the grass roots through to national economic growth.
Speakers included Andre Leu, the President of IFOAM who provided an over view of organic agriculture and its potential for addressing climate change by reducing carbon emissions and increasing captures from agriculture activities as well as through building resilient production systems that draw upon ecological science and traditional farming knowledge. He noted that the soil is the greatest carbon sink after the oceans and organic agriculture could sequester 20 per cent of greenhouse gases, also that organic systems are more drought resilient with humus able to store 30 times its weight in water.
Adimaimalaga Tafunai, Executive Director of Women in Business Development (WIBDI) Samoa discussed the challenges and lessons learned in linking small isolated producers to international export markets, such as The Body Shop International, the impact this has on sustainable livelihoods and the role of organic certification and production in this success.
The Prime Minister of Samoa, Hon. Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi has been a firm supporter of organic agriculture in the Pacific Region, his presentation addressed his vision for the role of organics in the future development of Samoa and the Pacific and spoke of his Governments support to the development of organics. He spoke personally of his commitment to organics relating the importance of organic agriculture back to his early memories of going to the plantation with his Grandfather.
Isikeli Karikarito, the Principal Cicia High School in Fiji, presented the case study of Cicia Island which became Fiji’s first fully certified organic island in 2013. Karikarito discussed how the adoption of organic agriculture systems has strengthened social structures, developed innovative networks and promoted entrepreneurship with virgin coconut oil exports. He noted in particular how organic agriculture is linked to culture and tradition and is validating for island people, he discussed the role of the school in promoting organics, linkages to sports ad health activities and building capacity and interest in students and believes that organic agriculture should be taught from primary school level.
Robert Oliver, Celebrity Chef, Writer of ‘Mea Kai, Taste of the Pacific’ discussed organic tourism linkages as a sustainable development option that addresses issues of loss of traditional foods, nutritional security and the prevention of non communicable diseases. Oliver argued that demand for healthy, organic and local foods can be driven by the tourism sector resulting in increased local food production, better availability for local consumers and a revival of traditional foods and cooking. He spoke about his 2 cook books both of which won international awards and his TV programme “Real Pasifik”.
The Side Event was also used to launch a range of organic teas by C1 espresso Christchurch NZ. The teas are made with certified organic ingredients from Samoa illustrating the important role of the private sector in development partnerships. C1 owner Sam Crofsky spoke of all the learning C1 had to do to make this project a reality and how it only really progressed once they learned to listen to the farmers. Delegates at the Side Event were able of taste the teas and also enjoy an organic morning tea featuring products made from organic breadfruit flour and other local ingredients.
The organic movement was present at other SIDS events; the POETCom “Organic Islands” Partnership was invited to make an intervention during the Multi Sector Dialogue on Sustainable Economic Development; and the SIDS Conference outcome document, the SAMOA Pathway notes that the valuable biodiversity of SIDS and the ecosystem services it provides are at grave risk, and so strongly supports the efforts of small island developing States to export organic, natural, sustainably produced and locally grown products. A display of over 50 organically certified products from the Pacific region were displayed at the SIDS Village and WIBDI hosted a display of Samoan organic products and also served organic fruit and coconut smoothies in the Food Court.
Delegates attending the IFAD Side Event were given gifts of organic virgin coconut oil(VCO) from WIBDI, Kiribati Organic Producers, Tonga National Youth Congress and Cicia Island. Those attending the Organic Islands event received gift bags of organic cocoa, insect repellent, VCO and soap supplied by WIBDI. Participation of the organic movement in SIDS events was supported by IFAD, the European Union and in kind contributions of participants.