Pacific Organic & Ethical Trade Community


Posted On: November 12, 2015

A training targeted at improving Pacific organic producers’ ability to access the growing billion dollar global organic market was held in Nadi, Fiji this week. The training equipped 17 organic practitioners from Samoa, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, Palau, Australia and New Zealand with skills in 3rd party certification. Developing Pacific capacity in this area will ultimately lower certification costs and facilitate the export of organics.

The Pacific Organic and Ethical Trade Community (POETCom), housed within the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), and the International Organic Inspectors Association (IOIA) are providing the training with the support of two European Union funded Programmes – the “Pacific Agriculture Policy Project” and the “Increasing Agricultural Commodities Trade Project”, both implemented by SPC.

Support is also provided by the National Association of Sustainable Agriculture Australia (NASAA), Biogro and Fijian fruit pulp exporter AGRANA. Currently, a Pacific island producer wanting 3rd party certification in order to meet the requirements of an export market must foot the often expensive costs of getting an organic inspector to inspect their farms or production processes.

“Organic certification is a guarantee that the food or product is produced organically and ethically,” said POETCom coordinator Karen Mapusua. “This is an introductory training and trainees will need to undergo more training, field exercises, even shadowing qualified organic food inspectors to qualify as an organic inspector,” she said. “They will then offer their services to accredited organic certification bodies that hire them to carry out organic certification in Pacific island countries.”

Veteran organic inspector and trainer Luis Brenes from Costa Rica said the Pacific will need more than just organic inspectors to build a strong organic farming landscape. “The Pacific will need lots of extension officers to help farmers get certification by guiding them on the principles, and rules of organic farming,” he said. “So even though some in this training don’t become inspectors they will become extension officers for farmers.”

Thirty three year old George Moli from the World Vision project in Vanuatu is part of the training to learn about managing an organic certification system for the benefit of 600 farmers back home. “We support farmers in growing organic coconuts for sale and the focus is on improving their income levels to alleviate poverty,” he said. “Organics is helping them.” The training that included field trips involving mock inspections of organic farms in Fiji ended today.


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