Pacific Organic & Ethical Trade Community


Posted On: June 24, 2015

A remote island in Solomon Islands will soon start exporting ngalinuts to New Caledonia with the commencement of first steps leading to organic certification. A team comprising officials from the Pacific  Organic and Ethical Trade Community (POETCom), the Ministry of Agriculture of the Solomon Islands, Kastom Gaden Association and Zai Na Tina are on Baniata (Rendova Island), Western Province, where the ngalinuts grow wild, set up the Participatory Guarantee Systems (PGS) at Baniata recently.

A New Caledonian enterprise is keen on buying ngalinuts on the condition they are certified organic. POETCom is hosted by the European Union-supported Increasing Agricultural Commodity Trade (IACT) project implemented by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC). POETCom Organic Systems Extension officer Stephen Hazelman will work with islanders familiarising them on the principles of the Pacific Organic Standard (POS), the rulebook of organics in the Pacific.

“It’s the same we did in Fiji and Kiribati,” he said, “talking to farmers, explaining what organic is and going through relevant areas of Pacific Organic Standard for understanding and clarity.” He added, “We will also need to determine if they have been using chemicals and if they do, there is a period of abstinence from chemical use they will need to abide by. With Baniata farmers, the Participatory Guarantee System will be established.”

The PGS is an interactive peer auditing tool that involves groups of farmers at Baniata auditing each other’s farms, to determine if they are compliant with standards identified in POS. Products that successfully pass the certification process can carry the Organic Pasifika certification mark, providing an organic guarantee to buyers.

Third party certification is the alternative auditing tool, carried out by an accredited auditor but is expensive to employ and often beyond the means of ordinary farmers. “PGS allows farmers in the Pacific to export their produce to markets that accept PGS as an organic certification process,” Mr Hazelman said. “It opens up economic opportunities and livelihoods in remote locations like Baniata.” Chairman of KGA Moses Pelomo is pleased with this latest development.

“Solomon Islands rural resource owners are now given an opportunity to develop and commercialise and share their non-timber forest products of many edible nuts and fruits to add to their pool of income generating activities without cutting down their forests,” he said. Kustom Gaden Association as the focal point for POETCom in Solomon Islands will coordinate and facilitate PGS certification of organically grown products. These products are earmarked for both domestic and export markets.

“But I must thank POETCom officers for conducting this PGS certification exercise at Baniata for the Ngalinut owners affording others an opportunity to train on the principles of organics as well,” Pelomo said. Officers from KGA, an agricultural extension officer based in Munda and Zai Na Tina officials were also trained to implement the PGS in other parts of the country under the newly established Solomon Islands Participatory Guarantee Organic System (SI PGOS) certification.

Subscribe to hear more from POETCom