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'Managing Change' theme of Regional Meeting

SPC News Release

'Managing Change' theme of Heads of Agriculture and Forestry Regional Meeting

Thursday, September 14, 2006, SPC Suva Regional Office – The 2nd Heads of Agriculture and Forestry Services (HOAFS) Meeting, to be held in Nadi, 18-22 September, at Tanoa International, will focus on ‘Managing Change’, the theme for this year’s gathering of agricultural CEOs from the 22 member countries and territories of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC).

The Meeting will be officially opened by Hon Gyani Nand, Fiji Minster for Agriculture.

HOAFS is the advisory body to the integrated agriculture and forestry programme being implemented by SPC’s Land Resources Division (LRD). Previously, SPC’s agricultural services, including support for forestry, animal production, plant genetic resources and plant protection, were delivered independently of each other. Recognising that new thinking was needed to achieve more sustainable land management and facilitate trade, these services have now been integrated under a single management structure and the LRD – with the help of its partner organisations – is putting into action a strategy for managing the rapid environmental and socio-economic changes that are set to dominate management of land resources in the Pacific in the coming decades. A critical aspect of the strategy is the need to mitigate the effects of change and support adaptation to changed conditions.

Delegates will discuss the theme of Managing Change under the broad topics of Biodiversity, Health and Nutrition, Agriculture and Forestry Commodity Trade, Atoll Agriculture and Forestry and Climate Change and Food Security. In the future, pressures such as climate change will mean that many of our crop varieties will not be adapted to the new conditions, the distributions of some useful native forest species will shrink, and those of some exotic pests and invasives will expand. Devastating pests and diseases – of crops, livestock and humans – will not be kept at bay forever in the face of changes in climates and the ever easier movement of people and goods, despite the best efforts of quarantine services.

Coping with change will need to be accompanied by sustained effort to reverse the trend of poor economic performance across the region. Regional economic integration and thus increased regional and international trade are important goals for the region. The LRD is therefore positioning itself to contribute more to trade facilitation beyond its current efforts to improve the region’s capacity to deal with biosecurity issues. New areas of assistance to countries will include increasing the competitiveness of products in the market place through consistent supplies of quality products; improving access to and understanding of market and production related information including agriculture and forestry trade statistics; and post-harvest and downstream processing.

Delegates will also review on-going LRD projects including Development of Sustainable Agriculture in the Pacific (DSAP), Plant Protection in the Pacific (PPP) and LRD/GTZ Community-based Natural Resources Management. The LRD is developing partnerships and meeting new challenges for the Pacific region through initiating new projects including the Pacific Regional Influenza Pandemic Preparedness Project (PRIPP), Facilitating Agricultural Commodity Trade (FACT), Pacific Ant Prevention Programme (PAPP), Centre for Pacific Crops and Trees, Pacific Agriculture and Forestry Policy Network (PAFPNet), Sustainable Land Management and Land Care Concept for the Pacific, Organic Agriculture and the Pacific Regional Crops Improvement Program.

The meeting will end with regional delegates endorsing the LRD’s work programme for the next two years.

The LRD’s main partner organisations and donors include AusAID, NZAID, France, EU and GTZ.

ENDS

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