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Pacific Farmers Have Their Say: Invest In Demonstration Farms

June 2020

Farmer Organisations Will Play An Influential Role In Agriculture

A site plan of MORDI Tonga Trust indicating the various demonstration plots

As the global lockdown extends to its 6thmonth, the demand for nutritious food is rising.

Jim Pierce, the coordinator of Pacific Organic and Ethical Trade Community (POETcom) says farmer organisations are expected to play an increasingly important role in research services and technical assistance.

“There’s going to be continued interest in agriculture and there will be a need for capacity building; as a result there is a potential threat to the environment from deforestation, erosion and chemical use. Organic and agroecology are critical to success for disaster and climate change mitigation.”

He said: “The success of this work is more likely through farmer organisations than government programs, the participation of farmer organisations will help government programs to be more successful.”

“Production of local food rather than imported cultivars will be more successful and sustainable.”

Earlier this year, POETcom reached out to members to evaluate their response to the global pandemic.

“We focus more on production than marketing but we do network for value chain development; we conducted an open survey for our members and partners to assess the effects from COVID-19 and the needs for recovery.”

He said: “The challenges that have been reported are reduced local and national sales, reduction of export markets, problems with distribution channels, and farmers taking their produce directly to the market due to distribution problems.”

“Our members also indicated future impacts are likely to be over-supply of existing markets and changing market dynamics.”

Pierce explained the bigger threats of the global pandemic will be imported inputs, which he says require the effort of both government and development partners.

“We anticipate pressure from corporate agribusinesses for farmers to become further reliant on imported inputs.”

He said: “Government and development partners can invest in demonstration farms, seed and planting stock nurseries and large scale composting as strategies to mitigate threats of COVID-19.”

“Increase supply of seedling, planting material through research stations and agricultural officers, increase communication awareness materials and use of social media by extension officers to connect with farmers, and focus on livelihoods and food security.”

“POETcom works with both private and public sector, we’ve had more success with recovery than response efforts, and some of the strategies we’re putting into place in this pandemic is trainings and infrastructure to capture local soil and seed/planting stock.”

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