Consultations for the implementation of the International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD) funded “Capacity Building for Resilient Agriculture in the Pacific” was carried out in the Marshall Islands on July 1 and 2.
The IFAD project focuses on building resilient food systems with organic agriculture, young farmers and the organisations that support them. While opening consultations, Secretary Resources and Development Rebecca Lorennij noted the project will benefit the fragile environment of RMI through advocating organic agricultural practices.
“The focus is increasingly on sustainable development for food and nutritional security, climate resilience and livelihoods,” she said. The main aim of the two day consultations were to identify activities, challenging issues, and partner organisations for the implementation of the project in the Marshall Islands.
Participants included food producers through to retailers, officials from the Ministry of Resources and Development, academia, women representatives and youth. The project will be implemented by the Pacific Organic and Ethical Trade Community (POETCom) housed in the Land Resources Division of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) in three countries, Marshall Islands, Niue and Cook Islands.
The strategic approach of the project is to identify and work with producer groups focussing on organic production in each of the participating countries. They will be equipped with organisational and technical skills they need to be able to support their members, especially the young men and women in the communities.
Three main components of the project are:
• Building capacity of producer organisations
• Building capacity of young farmers
• Sharing knowledge on resilient agricultural practices
“In identifying the activities that can be undertaken under the project, we also want to know who we can work with,” said Organic Systems Expert Stephen Hazelman. “We consult because we need to know what will work best for Marshall Islands.”
“Important as well is the focus on young people that need to be equipped with skills and knowledge of better farming practices, young people can earn income for themselves and produce food for themselves or their families.”
Funding to implement activities will be released to the implementing organisation in Marshall Islands over the three year cycle of the project 2015 to 2017. The Republic of Marshall Islands flat geography makes it more vulnerable than most Pacific island countries to rising sea levels.
With farming systems already under threat from saltwater contamination, organic agricultural principle offer hope by strengthening resilience to natural hazards such as cyclones, droughts and floods and changes in temperature patterns and rainfall
Meanwhile, the Marshal Islands Organic Farmers Association was also formed offering a space where government, farmers and private investors could collaborate for organic development in the country. MIOFA will be POETCom’s focal point in the country.