The POETCom booth at Independence Park during the Pacific Week of Agriculture in Port Vila from was a hive of activity as it attracted many people who were curious about organic farming.
On display from 16–20 October were organic certified products, and staff were at hand to provide guidance on organic farming techniques and certification.
Going like hot cakes were the ‘Farmer to Farmer Resilience Series’ which is a suite of 22 information sheets documenting various kinds of resilience farming practices from Vanuatu, Marshall Islands, Cook Islands and Niue.
POETCom board chairperson Moses Nambo said the strong interest in organic farming is indicative of a growing level of consciousness in his country and, more generally, in the Pacific about the ills of chemicals used in farming.
‘A dream brought together a group of Pacific Islanders just over a decade ago,’ he said. ‘The dream was of pristine Pacific Islands, vibrant in life and colour, and the soils healthy, providing food beyond measure.
‘The people who first occupied this Pacific were healthy and active, intimately connected with the land and sea,’ he continued. ‘They were ardent supporters of all nature and life. They were the guardians. The dream of organic agriculture, in its many ways, is slowly but surely coming true across the Pacific. Over the past decades, the organic agriculture movement has grown by leaps and bounds and we are seeing it now in the eyes of many. Demand for POETCom’s technical services has really multiplied to the point we will need to expand our capacity.’
The booth was made possible with the support of the International Fund for Agricultural Development, the Sustainable Development Goal Fund and UNDP Pacific, as well as the Technical Centre for Agriculture and Rural Cooperation.
Osea Rasea, the POETCom’s Organic Production and Systems officer, spent days standing by the booth, providing advice on organic products and certification. ‘I’d have two or three people asking at a time,’ he said. ‘The general area of questioning is: How does one do organic farming? and How does one get certified?
‘I enjoyed seeing the children flock to the booths and take with them information about farming, their teachers too, and it was good to see the students from the culinary school, the future chefs who will decide on food menus and hopefully choose only organically grown food,’ he added.
The booth provided a good opportunity to promote POETCom as the authority on organic agriculture in the region, to interact with local communities and to support the creation of conversations about organic agriculture as a tool for resilience to climate change.