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Agriculture and food security top agenda at Pacific SIDS forum in Apia

Apia, SAMOA — The Pacific Small Islands Developing States (SIDS) solutions forum is underway in Samoa.

In an opening ceremony in Apia, Samoa's Prime Minister, Fiame Naomi Mata'afa said agriculture and food security are top of the agenda.

Fiame said food shortages threaten small island states as they cope with challenges such as the climate crisis and political upheaval.

"Agriculture is the backbone of many if not all of our economies for food security and sustainable economic activities, however, we have experienced significant challenges impacting our food systems and agriculture sectors.

"Agriculture and food security have remained at the forefront of international discussions," she said.

The 2022 tsunami in Tonga, which nearly destroyed the entire economy of the country, is but one example of the devastating context of natural disasters confronted by Pacific Small Island Developing States.

Pacific SIDSs members — the Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu are challenged by their remoteness, high vulnerability to climate change-induced disasters, dependence on imported foods, and a high incidence of diet-related diseases.

Fiame also said the COVID-19 pandemic exposed the Pacific Island nations' over-dependence food imports.

"The impacts of COVID-19 directly and indirectly on agriculture and food systems mean we have to be adaptive and innovative.

“We experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic the impact of food shortages, and it remains a strong reminder to us of the importance of our traditional food systems," she said.