|Peak agriculture and forestry body to discuss|
|Thursday, 09 September 2010 15:21|
Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), Suva, 9 September, 2010 - Pacific Island countries and territories (PICTs) have limited natural resources. Sustainable land management and use is therefore essential for the future well-being of Pacific Island people. Land use has direct impacts on agriculture and forestry, and dealing with these three elements in a holistic manner is the best way to manage them sustainably.
The 4th Heads of Agriculture and Forestry Services (HOAFS) meeting will be discussing these issues next week, 14–17 September, 2010, in Nadi, Fiji.
The HOAFS forum includes CEOs, Directors and Permanent Secretaries of Ministries of Agriculture and Forestry of the 22 Pacific Island member states of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC). The Suva-based Land Resources Division of SPC provides the secretariat for HOAFS. The biannual HOAFS meeting is the main regional platform for discussing Pacific agriculture and forestry issues, and for updating members on developments at the national and regional level across the two sectors.
In recent national and regional forums, there have been strong expressions of concern and calls for more concerted efforts to address global issues such as climate change, food security, biosecurity and trade, pest and disease incursions, organic agriculture, and the place of youth in agriculture. The 2010 HOAFS meeting will address these issues within the context of the theme of the meeting, Agrobiodiversity to address climate change, food security and trade, which recognises the UN International Year of Biodiversity 2010.
The importance of agrobiodiversity is specifically recognised in the Land Resources Division’s Strategic Plan 2009–2012, which includes the call to ‘conserve, develop, promote and utilise agrobiodiversity’. The establishment of the new Centre for Pacific Crops and Trees in Suva is evidence of SPC’s commitment to this objective.
Conservation and management of broad-based genetic diversity has been supporting improvements in agriculture for 10,000 years. This broad base of diversity has enabled agriculture to sustain increasing populations over the years and has also provided resilience in agricultural ecosystems, so they have the capacity to recover from environmental stress and to evolve. This capacity to evolve has given us the diversity that could help meet the challenges of climate change, ensuring food and nutritional security, and supporting trade development. Diversity is also key to combating pest and disease problems.
The proposed Framework for Action on Information and Communication Technology (ICT) for Development in the Pacific discusses how ICT can assist the agriculture sector. Mobile phones and Knowledge and Learning Community Centres (KLCs) can improve agricultural information sharing and increase the quantity and quality of agricultural information available, improving food production, enhancing food security and eventually enhancing market participation. This could also contribute to more informed policy decisions in PICTs. Mobile phones are perhaps the quickest and most appropriate method of receiving and circulating information throughout the Pacific region.
The Samoa Ministry of Agriculture hosted and chaired the 2009 HOAFS meeting, which was held back to back with a meeting of Pacific Ministers of Agriculture. The 2010 HOAFS will be hosted and chaired by Fiji.