Dec 15, 2017 Last Updated 3:10 AM, Dec 12, 2017

SPC reform on ice

HOPES by the Pacific Community (SPC) to restructure one of its divisions were dashed when member government representatives refused to endorse the restructure proposal at a recent meeting in Vanuatu.

Officials who attended the Heads of Agriculture and Forestry Services (HOAFS) instead told SPC to initiate consultations first with member states about the proposed restructure. “You had five years to research, prepare and circulate papers (about the proposed restructure),” acting director general of Vanuatu’s ministry of agriculture Benjamin Shing told the HOAF meeting held at the Iririki Island Resort last October. “Going forward, I would like to see the strategic and business plans to be circulated to members well before hand to allow them to comment on areas that are relevant to them.”

The meeting heard that only Samoa had a copy of the restructure plans, and this was sent to its delegates a fortnight before the Vanuatu meeting.  

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Vanuatu beef is premium

SHORTAGE of Vanuatu’s premium beef has prompted the island government to embark on an ambitious re-stocking programme that hopes to see the doubling of heads of cattle in eight years. With total cattle heads currently standing at 230,000, the Livestock Department of Vanuatu’s Ministry of Agriculture aims to grow this to 500,000 heads of cattle by 2025. First phase of the re-stocking programme, which was launched by the previous government of then Prime Minister Moana Carcases in 2012 cost the island’s taxpayers VU$30million (US$274,445).

Cattle farmers were encouraged to increase their cattle numbers w i t h t h e national government offering to subsidise the cost of buying new cattle. National government offered to pay 50 per cent of the cost as well as transportation of the animals. “It was an expensive exercise but the new government continued with the programme as it was committed to addressing beef shortage in Vanuatu,” explains Lee Bong, Livestock Director of the ministry of agriculture.

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Greener days are coming

1184 certified organic farmers

THE historic launching of Organic Pasifika at Laminu Stadium on Tanna Island last month (September 20) certified 1184 organic farmers from Tanna alone. It is a signal that greener days are coming to the Pacific. Vanuatu’s National Task Force coordinating the first ever Pacific Week of Agriculture (PWA) in Port Vila from October 10 – 20, is racing against time, with confidence to pull off the first-ever regional event with a category of success.

The Vanuatu Government has launched the Agri Tourism Policy to bridge the gap between farm and restaurant. The bridge is working wonders in the Caribbean Islands, the birth place of PWA. Meanwhile Breakas Beach Resort on the southern outskirts of Port Vila is piloting organic dishes on its menu in line with the wishes of its health conscious customers.

The initiative is aimed at certifying the resort as an organic resort and to encourage other resorts to follow suit. At the end of the day it is a win-win situation for the organic farmer, organic resort and healthy people.

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The road to PWA 2017

OVERSEAS travel by government officials can be quite controversial at times and often comes under the microscope in the Pacific. More often than not, criticisms are not way off the mark. Not for Vanuatu’s former Minister of Agriculture David Tosul and his then Director-General Mr. Howard Aru; current Coordinator of PWA 2017.

The year was 2014, October 6 to 12 when they represented Vanuatu at the 13th Caribbean Week of Agriculture for the first time in Paramaribo, Surinam. That was when the idea of a Pacific Week of Agriculture was hatched. “We were at this luncheon.

The Minister leaned over to me and said, ‘DG what do you think if I propose that Vanuatu host something like this?’ “I said, I think that’s a great idea,” Mr Aru responded. The minister stood up during the course of the luncheon and publicly announced Vanuatu’s interest in hosting something similar to CWA. Partners picked up the declaration almost immediately and that was the birth of PWA. As they say, the rest is history.

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Fiji’s sole but struggling rice producer, Rewa Rice Limited has welcomed the entry of Grace Roads Limited, a South Korean investor built on Christians’ apocalyptic principles, into the local rice industry.

A miller for rice paddy, Rewa Rice Limited is a government-owned company that buys paddy from farmers all over Fiji. Their mill is located in Dreketi, in Fiji’s northern island of Vanua Levu. Company Manager, Ashrit Pratap says Grace Road farms will supplement rice production in Fiji as Rewa Rice alone does not have the capacity to satisfy local demands. “The government aims to reduce rice imports and be fully self-sufficient by year 2020,” said Pratap.

“Therefore we do not see Grace Road as a competition but we see them as a partner to achieve our aims to reduce imports and promote local rice.” Grace Roads Group is a Korean Christian group that made landfall in Fiji in 2014 with the aim of introducing and developing organic farming in the country, and have built their own rice mill. President Daniel Kim says Fiji was a good place for investment, and a greater place for their mission – 

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