The Pacific Organic and Ethical Trade Community has a new board.
The POETCom General Assembly elected the new members at its October 2017 meet in Wallis and Futuna.
Elections were held on the third day at the main meeting hall in Mata ’utu.
New board members include Dr Jone Hawea from Fiji, Alberta Vitale from Samoa, Drew Havea of Tonga, and soil scientist Dr Shane Tutua of Solomon Islands.
Medical surgeon Dr Jone Hawea is a passionate advocate and champion of the reduction of non-communicable diseases in Fiji through the consumption of healthier, local organic foods. He was also the Associate Director of the Foundation of Rural Integrated Enterprise and Development (FRIEND) and was the designer of their organic programs including the country’s only organic food restaurant. The restaurant called Tukuni receives organic farm produce (vegetables and root crops) from farmers of organic farming projects in communities. FRIEND first works with the farmers training them on organic farm production. They become the first point in a value chain of organic foods beginning from the farms to the market point at the restaurant. This is the Engaging Fiji Farmers in Organic Farming project coordinated by POETCom in partnership with the Sustainable Development Goal Fund and UNDP Pacific. FRIEND’s work with communities has produced a range of famous pickles including the organically certified Fiji Cha or lemon grass tea. Dr Hawea is currently working on reducing the rate of Diabetic leg amputations in Fiji.
Dr Jone Hawea
Re-elected to the board are Francois Japiot and Gilles Parzy, a founding member and author of the name POETCom and a consultant in agroecology and organic farming. Mr Parzy is also an organic farmer.
Mr Japiot is the Project Manager of the Regional Technical Cooperation for the development of a network of Chambers of Agriculture in the Pacific project, based at the Chamber of Agriculture of New Caledonia. He also has a wealth of experience in the development of policy and sectorial programmes in agriculture and previously owned Vanuatu Organics Limited, an agroforestry organic farm located on Efate Island that produced, processed and marketed high value agricultural certified organic products like coffee, nuts, and fruits, food crops for domestic and overseas markets. Mr Japiot holds a Master’s degree in livestock for tropical regions and has worked in various countries in the Pacific, Africa and Europe, a qualified agronomist, speaks several languages and recognised for his publications advancing the work of agriculture.
Ms Alberta Vitale is the Associate Director of Women Business Development Inc. that collaborates with farming families in 183 villages across Samoa, to develop income generating opportunities for families and grow businesses that maximize farm based resources. A major aspect of WIBDI’s work involves the third party organic certification of farm products for exports to renowned international brands like The Body Shop, Ethique, All Good Organics and C1 Espresso. These engagements place more than SAT600,000 in the hands of rural families. The income enables access to education for children, improve standard of living for smallholder farmers, and help develop individual families. WIBDI believes that a sustainable change occurs slowly and requires a long-term commitment.
Ms Alberta Vitale
Dr Shane Tutua is renowned for his work in promoting soil health and operates the Zai Na Tina Organic Demonstration & Research Farm in East Honiara, Solomon Islands. It is also, where trainee farmers from around the country learn about organic production. The farm has been producing a bounty from the same area of land for over twenty year’s testament to the positive impact of organic technologies like composting, intercropping, mulching amongst others that is applied. Dr Tutua trains farmers across the Pacific Islands in organic production and widely respected in the soil science community. His PhD is on soil carbon and nutrient cycling. He has published in scientific journals and reviewed publications like Food in Nutrition Security in Solomon Islands.
Dr Shane Tutua
In 2017, Mr Drew Havea received the Harris Wofford Global Citizen Award 2017 from the National Peace Corps Association. The award hailed his extensive work in supporting youth, democracy, civil society and leadership in Tonga. Mr Havea is the President of the Tonga National Youth Congress (TNYC), a member of POETCom. TNYC works with youth farmers in the Kingdom with the vision of certifying the Kingdom organic by 2030. Currently setting up a youth social enterprise for the export market in the areas of organic virgin coconut oil and vanilla to provide employment for youth. He is also the current chairperson of the Civil Society Forum of Tonga and the Tonga National Leadership Development Forum. In the latter, working with stakeholders he helped design the Tonga Leadership code that defines Tonga vision for good leadership and reflects progressive leadership norms of accountability and transparency. Currently, representing the Pacific in the Commonwealth Foundation Board of Governors in London advising on Civil Society matters.
Mr Drew Havea
Later on in the evening of Election Day, the new board members unanimously voted Dr Vuli to be the new board chairperson.
Outgoing chairperson Moses Nambo who maintains a seat on the board noted the depth and breadth of experience the newly elected candidates boast.
“From the technical knowledge of organic production, certification, to the creation of products for market development and engaging export markets, the science, and the economical knowhow of income creation, this board is well versed,” Mr Nambo said.
“They will lead POETCom and help charter waters yet unchartered as POETCom extends its reach and influence in promoting organic farming and certification throughout the Pacific island region. The voters have chosen well.”
Mr Nambo is an animal health and livestock specialist, a paravet trainer, serologist and organic farmer. He continues serving in the new board as provided for in POETCom statutes.
Honorary or ex-officio positions to accommodate expertise from professions like the legal fraternity or financial auditing related specialisation also exist to assist the board and POETCom in this capacity whenever needed.
The former board with Acting POETCom Coordinator Stephen Hazelman (extreme left), Moses Nambo (front), Robert Bishop (middle), Adi Maimalaga Tafuna’i, Gilles Parzy (right) and Francois Japiot (back)