Ni Sa Bula POETComrades
Hoping this finds you all in good health and good spirits as we close in on the finish of 2022. Please join me in welcoming our new Communications Coordinator, Vilimaina Tamata to the POETCom Team. With her appointment the Secretariat is fully staffed and ready for a strong 2022 finish and 2023 start.
The end of the calendar year brings the Holidays, and a time of reflection. The POETCom Secretariat gathered in late November to look back on the accomplishments and challenges of 2022, and to plan for 2023 and beyond. As Coordinator going into my fourth year now, I have a better idea of how to plan, and how to challenge this fine and diverse group of talented people to find and focus on what we do well, and how to leverage it into success for the Pacific Organic Movement.
One of the challenges for the new year will be to explore, define and possibly expand our role in marketing organic products, especially the products of our members. POETCom is well established as the peak body for standards, certification, policy development, gender inclusion and sustainable production. But here we are, housed in the Land resources Division Markets for Livelihood pillar, so let’s clarify our mandate in market assistance. To be sure, farming and marketing are very different, complimentary, and critical skills for success, which is why so many excellent farmers struggle as successful businesspeople.
For most consumers, including in the Pacific, the cost of food is the number one priority, resulting in a lot of poor quality, often unhealthy food choices, and leading to the assumption that there is limited added financial value potential for certified organic food. There is, however, a small but significant group of consumers who appreciate and are willing to support local and organic farmers. These professionals, tourists, health conscious and food savvy consumers understand the true cost and value of clean-green quality food.
Recently, at the FRIEND Fiji 20-year anniversary, where four new organic products were launched, POETCom Board Chair Sashi Kiran made a statement that stopped me cold, and made me realize the importance of effective marketing; she said “Every product FRIEND produces flies, and there is no product that they can make enough of to satisfy the orders” These are premium priced, high quality foods, with a proportional piece of the profit being paid to the hard working, environmentally conscious Organic farmers, who are an integral part of the Value Chain.
We know that organic farming practices have many non-monetary benefits including climate change mitigation, biodiversity, health and food security. It will be interesting to explore how POETCom can better directly or collaboratively serve our members and certified organic farmers in realizing better prices for their efforts.
Blessings, peace, and happy holidays