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Pacific Farmers Have Their Say: Increase Food Security

June 2020

Practice More Organic And Agricultural Practices

Tei Tei Taveuni chairman, Alan Petersen (r) says the impacts of the global pandemic has moved the focus from commercial farming to food security 

The Pacific Farmers Have Their Say Survey Report  has warned that the global coronavirus pandemic is one of the most significant economic periods in the Pacific’s history.

The enforcement of trade restrictions, lockdowns, social distancing, reduced income and unemployment has forced individuals and families to seek alternative means for survival.

“We know there are hard times coming,” says Alan Petersen, chairman of Tei Tei Taveuni.

“In this period of uncertainty, the focus for farmers has shifted from commercial farming to food security as there are no major markets for our taro and yaqona (kava).”

For many of PIFON’s member countries, tourism contributed significantly to GDP and with border closures experienced in the Pacific nations, tourism has ground to a halt. It has also meant that PIFON’s members’ markets for agricultural produce through hotels and resorts has stopped.

“There’s been a huge reduction in our export markets, the traders are no longer buying from farmers and we are seeing an increasing number of people return to farming.”

“The hotels have closed and it has left many out of work; there’s not going to be much of a cash economy in the country and as we’re also seeing, people are now returning to barter.”

“With disruptions to the export market and our big buyers in tourism, farmers will need to focus on keeping the environment pristine and practice more organic and natural agricultural practices because inputs will not be available or will cost too much.”

“We should be producing nutrient rich foods, healthier foods – the environment will be able to recover as farmers practice more sustainable agricultural practices – this is a win-win situation for all.”

Tei Tei Taveuni is currently identifying their most vulnerable members while also strengthening their communications network.

“We’re putting together specific project proposals that best responds to COVID-19 and we’re re-strategizing to focus more on livelihoods and food security.”

“We have in the past worked with the Ministry of Agriculture, our Farmer Organisations both national and regional. In these times, governments and development partners should know on the ground response is more effective and efficient if carried out by farmer organisations because we are already setup on the ground.”

“We need to work together and share resources and experiences.”

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