The first Pacific Week of Agriculture (PWA) was held in Port Vila, Vanuatu from the 16th – 20th of October 2017. Taking the theme CROPS – Culture, Resilience, Opportunities, Products, Sustainability, PWA set out to foster dialogue and commitment for realising the potential of agriculture in a region that is facing a number of economic, social and environmental challenges.
Among the challenges that the region faces are nutrition-related health problems fuelled by high levels of food imports, declining agricultural productivity, the impacts of climate change, as well as high youth unemployment and rural to urban migration. Vanuatu’s Minister of Agriculture Matai Seremaiah Nawalu noted that in Vanuatu, many farmers and their households did not eat the food they produced.
“Farmers are moving into more commercial crops to make money, but they and their families do not eat local,” said the Minister. “The problem is growing, and for low-income earners, it is often cheaper to buy imported products. We need to value our culture and traditions, be proud of our Pacific products and make our locally produced foods more affordable.”
“We wanted to use this learning platform to create synergies with other projects in the region, share experiences and good practice and build partnerships for future actions that ensure that rural communities can increase their access to nutritious foods.”
Young agripreneur, Nawsheen Hosenhally, a national of Mauritius, a Small Island Developing State facing similar challenges as many Pacific Island countries and who had travelled to Vanuatu to share her lessons learned in establishing a business, said that the first day celebrations had introduced her to a new culture – one that is strongly linked to agriculture.
“I think there is a lot of potential for developing agri-enterprise development” said Hosenhally, who is a co-founder of Agribusiness TV, based in Burkina Faso. “I think it is important to educate young people and provide them with opportunities to grow their business, especially if we want the agriculture sector to be more responsive in terms of improving food security, incomes and nutrition.”
Original article on: http://www.cta.int/en/article/2017-10-18/a-shared-journey-of-learning-at-the-pacific-week-of-agriculture.html (author: Clare Pedrick)
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