The 2nd Pacific Agribusiness Forum not only identified pressing challenges but also opportunities and creative solutions focused on the development and strengthening of partnerships and linkages among the agriculture, agritourism, health, education and finance sectors.
An important theme during the 2nd Pacific Agribusiness Forum was that even small nations like those in the Pacific can achieve great things. "Small as we are, under-resourced as we are, but with true Pacific spirit and resilience, we can all become gold medallists," said the Pacific Islands Private Sector Organisation’s (PIPSO) chairman, Howard Politini, in reference to Fiji’s rugby sevens team which had just brought back the country’s first Olympic gold medal.
The Forum was opened by Samoa's Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, who, while expressing his concerns about food security and the health crisis that the Pacific faces, also highlighted the region’s capacity to thrive. "We are indeed blessed with an ocean abundant with marine life, and fertile soils capable of recovering from the worst of natural disasters. If we only take what we need, generations after us will also be fed from the same food baskets. Our farmers are organic by default and organic farming will be our future."
Approximately 100 attendees experienced an intensive 4 days of presentations, industry visits, deliberations and networking. The Forum began with a workshop focusing on women in agribusiness and the launch of a Pacific Women in Agribusiness project, and ended with working group discussions formulating plans, strategies and solutions, which were circulated to the participants for action immediately after the Forum.
One of the highlights was a dinner prepared by more than 30 trainee chefs, who had undergone training with the renowned chefs Robert Oliver and Colin Chung. Organised by the South Pacific Tourism Organisation (SPTO) and the Samoa Tourism Authority (STA), and supported by PIPSO and CTA, the local chefs were able to showcase their talents, skills and creativity in utilising local ingredients for delicious contemporary island cuisines. The top-performing trainee chef received an award to visit the Caribbean and learn from her counterparts there. It was announced that more chefs in the Pacific will be awarded such scholarships through the Chefs for Development project, which is also supported by CTA.
PIPSO's CEO, Mereia Volavola, emphasised throughout the Forum that clear steps would be taken from the outcomes gathered. The Forum was a real opportunity to hear from stakeholders in the agribusiness and agritourism sectors, and identify priority areas for development which informed components of PIPSO's support. These include capacity building and linkages between farmers and the tourism industry in the Pacific; support for agritourism, women and youth in agribusiness; and encouragement of the use of locally sourced food. Another key area highlighted by stakeholders was the need for more multisectoral and multistakeholder partnerships, as well as solutions that had a regional approach.
The 2nd Pacific Agribusiness Forum, held in Apia, Samoa, from 29 August to 1 September 2016, was organised by PIPSO, CTA and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) with the support of the EU, the ACP Secretariat, SPTO, STA, the Secretariat of the Pacific Community, the Samoan Chamber of Commerce and the Pacific Cooperation Foundation.