Participants in the 2018 ‘Transforming Nutrition-Sensitive Value Chain Development in the Pacific Islands’ events organized under the Innov4AgPacific project, held in the Kingdom of Tonga from 3 – 6 December, urge for building stronger regional action-partnerships to benefit agribusiness and value chain development for improved incomes and diets at national level.
The integrated multi-event featured interactive seminars, workshops and fieldtrips to Tongan farmers, processors and the successful examples of community bottom-up approach MORDI TT and agribusiness development NISHI Trading. It brought together a mixture of over fifty owners of small and medium sized agri-enterprises, farmers, representatives of community organisations and ministries as well as young ICT innovators from seven Pacific Island countries (Kiribati, Solomon Islands, Samoa, Fiji, Vanuatu, Marshall Islands and Tonga), all united in their pursuit of enhancing the agricultural sector and improving the livelihoods of rural communities in their countries. They commended the programme as an invaluable platform for learning and exchanging ideas.
Regionalism – Uniting to face common challenges and takeing advantage of opportunities
A recurring message in the feed back of participants was that it was important for Pacific countries to support each other through the sharing of solutions and ideas.
Kiran Sashi, the founder of Foundation for Rural Integrated Enterprises & Development (FRIEND) in Fiji, said that Pacific Island countries faced common challenges including that of connecting to overseas markets.
“One of the things that stayed with me is that we as the Pacific need to be able to support each other. It’s been interesting to be able to relate with other Pacific Islanders going through the same struggles.”
“The world wants good stuff that the Pacific has, so a question that strikes me is how do we connect to these markets.”
Karness Kusto of the Marshall Islands Organic Farmers Association emphasized the importance of devising regional plans.
“This trip helped me identify regional plans that are useful for all of us. For us to have a nice fair clear understanding of our own national plans we have to have a good regional plan so that they can compliment each other.”
Kanaan Ngutu, a young ICT officer from Kiribati, echoed Kusto’s sentiment,
“It’s (the programme) valuable not just for one Pacific Island but for all of us.”
“Whatever solutions can be applied in Kiribati I can take to other Pacific Island countries. The expectation is that ideas are turned into projects that can be deployed in other parts of the Pacific.”
Rinesh Sharma, a young software engineer from Fiji, re-iterated Pacific solidarity.
“This trip gave me the opportunity to meet others who share the same vision as me as well as the drive to make it a reality. It was an honour being here and this platform really makes us connect because we as the Pacific can unite and be one and overcome all the problems that we have today.”
Multi-stakeholder partnerships crucial to reach common goals
Kyle Stice, manger of Pacific Island Farmers Organisation Network (PIFON) in Fiji, said that field trips he undertook, gave him insight into the structure and role of partnerships within the agricultural industry.
“The CTA/IFAD learning journey has provided an opportunity for us to see what different agribusinesses are doing, to see how they are partnering with the farmers and government to be able to create more opportunities.”
“I learnt how important but at the same time how difficult it is to establish collaboration at a national level between all the stakeholders and even harder at the regional level. So these are the forums where we can network, meet each other and make steps towards some of the huge goals that we have.”
Echoing the need to to take action towards common goals in achieving value chain development, Minoru Nishi Jr, Managing Director, Nishi Trading says, “we hope that the lessons learned here will be taken back and implemented to the respective countries”.
Minoru Nishi Jr, Managing Director, Nishi Trading, Tonga. Talks about the #PacificAgriHackLab2018 & #LearningJournrey workshop. @Innov4AgPacific @CTAflash @IFAD @USPTongaCampus @UNCDFPFIP @MORDItonga @CocoNewTONGA @EUPasifika @PIFON2 #Tonga pic.twitter.com/yAbNqBwim3
— radionuku’alofa88.6FM (@alofa88) December 4, 2018
The ‘Transforming Nutrition-Sensitive Value Chain Development in the Pacific Islands’ events were organised by the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) in collaboration with the Pacific Islands Private Sector Organisation (PIPSO) and MORDI Tonga Trust under the project ‘Promoting Nutritious Food Systems in the Pacific Islands’ (short: Innov4AgPacific). This activity brought together current implementors of the project’s activities such as the Innovation Grant Facility (IGF), Seed funding, participants of the Pacific Agri-Hack Competition, Value Chain Capacity Building and other partners such as the University of the South Pacific (USP), the Pacific Islands Farmer Organisation Network (PIFON), the Pacific Financial Inclusion Programme (PFIP), IFAD’s Kiribati Outer Island Food and Water Project (KOIFWP) for joint learning and action to ‘Transforming Nutrition-Sensitive Value Chain Development in the Pacific Islands’.
Hear more Pacific voices calling for agribusiness and value chain development:
Ateca Kama, from the Ministry of Health and Medical Services (National Food and Nutrition Centre), Fiji shares her experience over the past 3 days being a part of the @Innov4AgPacific #LearningJourney #PAL2018 #PacificAgriHackLab in the Kingdom of #Tonga pic.twitter.com/Hd3ktLKXPy
— Innov4AgPacific (@Innov4AgPacific) December 6, 2018
— Innov4AgPacific (@Innov4AgPacific) December 6, 2018
Caroline Harunari, from the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock in the Solomon Islands shares her experience as a participant of the #learningjourney in #Tonga with @Innov4AgPacific pic.twitter.com/zdzpkpbfXZ
— Innov4AgPacific (@Innov4AgPacific) December 5, 2018