Vanuatu Urged To Focus On Improving Food Security

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Agricultural co-ops, rural food supplies discussed

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, Oct. 24, 2012) – Vanuatu government agencies have zoned in on improving food security to avoid hunger on the importance of Food Security status in Vanuatu to the eradication of poverty and hunger.

This was highlighted on World Food Day (WFD), Tuesday October 16 under the theme, "Agricultural Cooperatives – key to feeding the world", singling out support and investing in cooperatives, producer organizations and other rural institutions as a means of critical support to farmers.

Cooperatives and producer organizations can catalyst the development of small producers skills, provide them with needed information and knowledge, and help them innovate and adapt to changing markets because group purchasing and marketing empower farmers to gain market power and get better prices on necessities like seeds and fertilizers.

In his address on behalf of the Director of Agriculture Livo Moli, the representative told farmers and stakeholders who celebrated this year’s event at PENAMA’s headquarters on Saratamata, Ambae that Vanuatu has yet to seriously experience poverty and hunger compared to other developing countries like Africa and Asia but it is very important that it prepares itself to combat hunger.

"Climate change and natural disasters [are] becoming a very serious contributing factor in Vanuatu and other Pacific countries, affecting food security and creating challenge for ni-Vanuatus to cope and adapted to the climatic changes in the near future," he stressed.

"For us to become successful in reducing hunger we must join hands and work together to ensure there is sufficient food supply to meet our high population demand. We all have to understand that every one of us have different responsibilities on improving food security within our communities."

"The Department of Agriculture as a stakeholder prioritizes a close working relationship with the Vanuatu Agriculture Research Technical Center on producing collection of climatic resilient crops and short term crops and distribute to farmers’ cooperatives.

"Another committed role for the department is to reorganize farmers group and working together with them to produce more and develop a system where farmers can sell their products at the farm gate and or centralized based market to a local buyer."

He said small scale farmers are expected to provide much of the extra food needed to feed our communities.

"Supporting and investing in cooperatives, producer organizations and other rural institutions is viewed as critical to supporting those farmers," he added.

"We should focus on promoting our local crops in terms of producing more economically viable and short term crops like cassava, sweet potato and rice to enhance food security production in a more manageable manner ensuring a healthy wealthy Vanuatu; as stipulate in the Vanuatu Priority Action Agenda."

With Vanuatu’s increasing population it is predicted that by 2015 food security will become an increasingly critical issue for the Vanuatu Government.

Statistical reports indicate that in 2010 Vanuatu imported over 11,000 tons of rice annually and it is increasing every year.

Many commercialized countries like Australia, China, Japan, and United States are developing strategies on controlling export of food crops like rice, maize and wheat to other countries just only to satisfy and meet their population demand on food.

WFD in the capital saw the heads of the Department of Cooperative, Department of Industry, Public Health Department and the Department of Agriculture as panelists on national Radio to advocate the importance of Food security.

WFD activities included farmers displaying their experience and traditional knowledge and skills on producing and increasing food crop production, poster displays, booklets and theme focused awareness talks.

The event is an ideal platform to share experiences, create good working relationships in terms of information sharing, communication network, strengthening cooperative work plans on food security and engaging farmers to understand their role on improving food production to address food security.

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