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Pacific Leaders Solutions Forum Focus on Food Security

By Lagi Keresoma

APIA, SAMOA – 29 NOVEMBER 2022: The Ministers of Agriculture from Pacific Small Islands Developing States are meeting in Apia this week to seek and map out solutions to food security in times of natural disasters.

The meeting is a follow up to the meeting in Thailand in August 2022 where leaders endorsed the Food Security Roadmap Towards 2030 which specifically targets actions and initiatives to address the concerns.

The focus then was also Food Security and the theme for this week’s meeting is Pacific Small Islands Developing States Solutions Forum.

Samoa’s Minister for Agriculture & Fisheries Laaulialemalietoa Leuatea Polataivao Schmidt said the expectation of the three day meeting is “connectivity and sharing within the region.”

“We need to connect not only between countries, but by way of marketing products that are available to share,” said Laauli.

He said the challenges faced by Pacific countries during disasters is the high costs of fuel, freight and costs of imported goods, and the Pacific should invest and focus on local commodity supplies to cater for a country’s food needs during a disaster .

He said what other Pacific islands do not have, others can supply and it is important to sustain the supplies and the development of goods for exports overseas.

Another important aspect is the biosecurity laws which countries can apply for and stay connected within the region especially with countries like New Zealand and Australia.

Laauli referred to the Maua App as one of the platforms that can connect countries in times of disasters by keeping the flow of sustainable supplies within the region.

Laauli, Agnes Kerslake & regional reps
Laauli, Agnes Kerslake & regional reps

The Minister of Agriculture, Laaulialemalietoa Leuatea Polataivao with some of the Pacific delegates and Agnes Kerslake of Sykeye that operates the Maua App at the Vaimoso First Harvest last Saturday.

“We do not need to wait for big exporters to come to us, but we can utilise our own resources to keep the supplies flowing,” he said.

The high level meeting was officially opened today and followed by site visits to local food suppliers before the ministerial meetings tomorrow.

Some issues raised in the Thailand meeting are again part of the Apia meeting agenda such as support food security and trade, sustainability of natural resources and the environment, enhance innovation and technology amongst other issues of importance.

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the cost of freight and sustainability of food supplies, was an eye opener for many Pacific countries, Samoa included especially during the border closures.

Pacific Islands experienced not only shortages of imported food supplies but the high cost of freight and fuel due to the war in Ukraine,

Climate change and COVID-19 are the major challenges currently faced by the world, but according to Laauli, a regional approach by the countries working together can only help address the issues and problems faced now and heading into the future.