Knowledge Exchange and South-South Triangular Co-operation Technical Session
It has been said that strength often comes in numbers, and that is what members of the Pacific Island Farmers Organisation Network found when impacts of the global pandemic took full effect in 2020.
When COVID-19 hit last year, the pressure to resolve the current supply and value chain of agriculture was high as the Network began coordinating recommendations to inform Governments and stakeholders on the construction of a supply chain.
“When Covid first started in early 2020, there were huge disruptions in our food systems and through our network of farmer organisations we were able to rapidly gather information and the ‘voice’ of farmers and we used this to share with governments and development partners, and I am proud to say that many people were listening,” says Kyle Stice, the Managing Director of PIFON.
He was recently speaking at the SIDS Solutions Forum on Monday, where he emphasised the role of farmer organisations and their importance in supporting farmers to mitigate existing challenges and threats “amplified by climate change and COVID-19”.
He said while agriculture research and extension in the Pacific has traditionally been a function of governments there is a quiet revolution taking place where more farmer organisations are emerging to help extend the reach of Governments and aid agencies.
With a reach of 80,000 members in the region, the Pacific Farmer Organisation is empowering farmers in its 9 Pacific Island member countries through the Farmers’ Organizations for Africa, Caribbean and Pacific program.
Valued at $4.8 million euros the FO4ACP program will be implemented in 54 months and is expected to directly benefit 150,000 farmers in the region including the Cook Islands, Fiji, New Caledonia, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Timor Leste, Tonga and Vanuatu.
“Our Pacific Island Farmers Organisation Network is working to help members become stronger and more effective and I suggest that the governments and development partners gathered here today should take notice of them in your respective countries – join us to help make them stronger, give them the opportunity to have a voice in your planning processes and most importantly utilize their infrastructure to help channel your resources to the farmers that need it.”
Looking ahead, the Pacific Island Farmers Organisation Network is now continuing work with the implementation of digital solutions to make farmer-to-farmer exchanges possible including the recently launched Breadfruit People, a virtual community comprising of social media channels, YouTube, a website and an email-based platform.
The community is engaging with farmer organisations and connecting technologies and information with small holder farmers across the Pacific on the underutilized traditional crop.
Breadfruit People has since welcomed the development of several new partnerships following its inaugural webinar series involving farmer-to-farmer exchanges that attracted a live audience of 500 people and a further 1000 who watched the recordings.
Kyle Stice said despite travel and gathering restrictions, farmers are still helping farmers and that farmer organisations are the driving force of these innovations, adding there was still more work to be done.
“Our focus needs to now be on building better and bigger partnerships, PIFON is part of a CSO alliance in the Pacific with POETCOM, PIANGO and PIPSO. PIFON is also collaborating with regional farmer organisations in Asia, Africa and the Caribbean through several EU and IFAD initiatives including the FO4ACP program.”
“We have seen great benefits of this partnerships but I believe we can do much more in linking researchers and academia with farmers through farmer organisations and I believe should be an important focus of South-south and triangular cooperation moving forward”.