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Farmer led initiative to help farmers adapt to climate change

June 2021

UN Food Systems Summit 2021 | Independent Dialogue Series in Asia Pacific (7/6-11/6)

Tonga – Fiji breadfruit learning exchanges

Farmer organisations in the Pacific are emerging as key players in the agriculture sector, but it faces numerous challenges. The Pacific Breadfruit & Seed Programme, a farmer led initiative by the Pacific Island Farmers Organisation Network (PIFON) aims to boost domestic food production in response to the dual challenges of Climate Change and Food Security.

Lavinia Kaumaitotoya, Manager of PIFON, says it is otherwise a difficult task to do with current approaches as they tend to overlook current threats and focus instead on ill-defined climate change issues.

The pressure of climate change, population growth and the non-communicable disease epidemic has also placed Pacific farmers in great need of applied research solutions tailored to the production constrains they face.

“The pragmatic approach is to improve our capacity to address existing threats while continuing to address knowledge gaps and identify future threats,” says Lavinia Kaumaitotoya.

The Pacific Breadfruit & Seeds Programme was the first focus area chosen by PIFON and its members from 9 Pacific Island countries to mitigate climate change.

The programme aims to develop the important indigenous food source as an orchard crop across the Pacific region with the seeds component of the programme – the result of the Scoping Study on Seeds undertaken by PIFON in 2014 – encouraging members to grow local and relearn the practice of saving seeds for future planting.

“It took at least 3 years of various studies and technical collaborations to establish the breadfruit programme,” says Lavinia Kaumaitotoya. “It builds upon the successful work done in Fiji under the earlier Breadfruit Programme Initiative, while upscaling the research and results to the regional level.”

“Our 2014 study on seeds provided the background to address seed supply access issues amongst our members in the Pacific because it’s not only important to talk about climate change but take active measures to address it if Pacific farms and communities are going to remain viable.”

Lavinia Kaumaitotoya was recently addressing participants at the United Nations Food Systems Summit 2021 : Independent Dialogue Series in Asia Pacific (7/6), where she spoke on the role of farmer organisations in Climate Change Adaptation.

The independent dialogue is part of key preparations for the UN Food Systems Summit in September.

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