“Please Keep Us Farmers in Mind During Your Deliberations”

Please keep us farmers in mind during your deliberations and map out a simple plan and an implementer’s manual for us.


Keynote address by Honourable Lopaoó Natanielu Muá, Samoa Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries.

“6th Regional Meeting of Heads of Agriculture & Forestry Services (HOAFS)”, Tuesday 1st October 2019 @ 9.00am, TATTE Conference Centre

Reverend Moeaiseu Raymond Betham, of the All Saints Anglican Church in Samoa, Dr Audrey Aumua, Deputy Director General of the Pacific Community, SPC, Mrs. Eriko Hibi, FAO Subregional Coordinator for the Pacific Islands, Mr. Jan Helsen, Director of the Land Resources Division of SPC,

Distinguished Senior Officials of Agriculture and Forestry Services from the Pacific, Distinguished Observers from regional and international organizations, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Talofa and a warm Pacific Greetings to everyone this morning and especially to many who have travelled from the region and afar to join us for the 2nd Pacific Week of Agriculture and this 6th Regional Meeting of Heads of Agriculture and Forestry Services.

The theme for our second biennial Pacific Week of Agriculture is focused on the “enhancement of partnerships to sustainably develop agriculture and forestry systems in the Pacific”, and we are delighted to have many of you technical expert officials join us this morning in Apia.

This second meeting will have us discuss some of the favourable results and outcomes that we had discussed in our Inaugural regional meeting in Vanuatu in 2017, as a means to design our next plan of actions and expected favourable results for the next biennial meeting in 2021.

We had discussed in Vanuatu that we would with the assistance of the SPC Land Resources Division map out opportunities for discussion at a Heads of Agriculture and Forestry Services meeting and this is the beginning of those efforts to identify real concerns, and map thematic areas for sustainable development, that will specifically revitalize partnerships with stakeholders, by sharing comprehensive or simple information on progress and results of recent and current actions, in order to highlight existing and establish new partnerships within common initiatives of interest.

I know and have been informed that the aim of your meeting is to strengthen and deepen partnerships for sustainable development in our Pacific Region and therefore urge you to have the implementers and farmers in mind when you are discussing the main objectives or expected favourable results and outcomes, that must be written and telling a simple story of your plan of actions for implementation by them, and producing favourable outcomes over the next two years when we shall meet again for the next PWA in HOAFS in 2021.

In other words have us farmers in mind when you deliberate about setting objectives to:

  • establish consensus on the priorities for attaining resilience and improved food and nutrition security in our region; or
  • that the PWA provides a forum for SPC member countries to express their development concerns and longer term development aspirations, and assess how the SPC Land Resources Division with its development allies could be an effective service provider; and,
  • to provide an opportunity for member countries to assess and determine the relevance of Land Resources Division’s cross-cutting integrated programs, as highlighted in the Business Plan for the period 2019 to 2023,
  • Please ensure that the stakeholders know what those are and also reveal the development framework that will effectively guide the active agents and implementers with real goals that can be monitored and evaluated to register achievable results and returns on government and development partner investments.

You have already identified some of these in development programmes such as:

  • Pacific Seeds for Life;
  • Achieving Land Degradation Neutrality; o Coconuts for Pacific Livelihoods;
  • Integrated Climate Smart Agriculture; o Nutrition Sensitive Agriculture Program;
  • Sanitation and Phytosanitary standards and Biosecurity; and, o Integrated Pest Management.

It is important that the stakeholders and active agents in the field understand the science of how all these, can achieve the favourable results from planning, planting, protecting until effective harvesting and delivery completes the production and consumption cycle.

We are aware of the UN Sustainable Development Goals that are relevant to Agriculture and Forestry, and the United Nations continues to monitor and evaluate targeted progress towards the achievement of favourable outcomes by the year 2030. I trust that your discussions will also focus on these United Nations Agenda 2030 which in short or long is: the establishment of institutional and knowledge management platforms, to support a people-centred and rights-based approach, for an efficient production and consumption level, of safe and nutritious domestic agricultural and forest products, that employ sustainable and climate-smart land management practices, that promote increased trade of diverse, safe and healthy agricultural products contributing to our food security, and sustainable livelihoods of our Pacific communities.

Please keep us farmers in mind during your deliberations and map out a simple plan and an implementer’s manual for us.

We can discuss and talk about our challenges until the cows come home, and please excuse the pun, and that whilst they are the reasons that we are here today, I pray that the challenges will be quickly highlighted, and that it would be most wonderful if 75% of your time will be spent on identifying and proposing realistic solutions to achieve real progress in our region through the sharing of best practices that are known in each country and of which we can commit to naming each promising solution after each nation who proposes it, or have it named after a HOAFS resolution so to ensure that regional intellectual property will be acknowledged.

In closing, I look forward to the Outcomes Report of your meeting, and the way forward on the reinforcement of a coordination platform, with SPC Land Resources Division taking the lead in partnership with our member countries and development partners for the progress of development amongst our people. I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge SPC, FAO and our development partners, for their continuous technical assistance and financial support, towards the sustainable management of our agriculture and forestry resources in the Pacific.

It is indeed my greatest pleasure to declare the 6th regional meeting of Heads of Agriculture and Forestry Services officially open.

Thank you and God bless!