Commemorating a decade of ground-breaking contributions to the organic movement in the Pacific region and globally, the Pacific Organic & Ethical Trade Community (POETCom) launched its 10Year Anniversary celebrations today.
The launch kicks off a year-long celebration to highlight forward progress in the organic movement. The event included several video messages from current and former POETCom Board members, long-time members, and relevant partner representatives highlighting the achievements, progress and history of POETCom. POETCom works with farmers, NGOs, and the development and private sectors to facilitate organic certification to access export markets.
Speaking at the virtual launch, POETCom co-founder and Director of the Pacific Community’s (SPC) Land Resources Division Karen Mapusua said that while POETCOM is celebrating 10 years housed within SPC, efforts to realise an organic Pacific have long been in existence. Organic agriculture has been a traditional practice for generations in the Pacific.
“The seeds were planted well before POETCom through the Pacific Grower’s Association and the Regional Organic Taskforce, and even before that, the rich agricultural practices of the Pacific. POETCom exists because everyone who works with organic agriculture knows how important it is to the future of our islands and our planet,” she said.
The Regional Organic Taskforce was a technical group made up of people from government agencies that promoted organic agriculture, in addition to farming associations and consultants who played a key role in developing the Pacific Organic Standard (POS) in 2007. The POS was officially recognised in September 2008 by the Pacific Heads of Agriculture and Forestry Services (HOAFS) and International Federation of Organic Agricultural Movements (IFOAM).
This led to the formation of POETCom, which in 2012 received its mandate to manage the POS through the Pacific Island HOAFS. During a meeting in French Polynesia the same year, POETCom’s General Assembly was finalised, the current governance structure was approved, and the first POETCom Advisory Board was elected.
“POETCom is an amazing network we value and we have really appreciated the hard work that has gone into building this. An organisation that binds us and works with our membership, supporting us through the challenges, is being celebrated today for its amazing growth through the 10 years under the founders and members’ guidance and leadership,” said the POETCom Board Chair Sashi Kiran.
By early 2014 POETCom had signed a Memorandum of Understanding with three internationally accredited certifying bodies to provide third party certification to the POS, allowing Pacific producers to export products under the region’s very own regional organic standard for the first time.
As a not-for-profit membership organisation, POETCom has grown over the years with more active members made up of farmer groups, technical support agencies, public and private sector representatives, and research institutes in 14 countries in the Pacific region. Regionally, POETCom offers farmers interested in organic agriculture training and advice in organic production, organic certification system management, and access to various markets for organic products.
In attendance at the anniversary launch to provide a congratulatory message was the Vice President of IFOAM Organics International Bablu Ganguly. “POETCom’s achievements will have a tremendous positive impact in the Pacific region and all over the world as we struggle with issues like freedom, hunger, malnutrition, food sovereignty, food security, climate change, gender inclusion and sustainable livelihoods,” said Ganuly.
An exciting lineup of events is being planned both virtually and face-to-face across the Pacific including training workshops, exhibitions and support work for farmers and groups. Updates will be posted on the POETCom website and social media pages.
Jim Pierce, Pacific Organic and Ethical Trade Community (POETCom) Coordinator, Pacific Community (SPC) | [email protected] or (679) 3370733
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The Pacific Community has been supporting sustainable development in the Pacific, through science, knowledge and innovation since 1947. It is the principal intergovernmental organisation in the region, owned and governed by its 27 member countries and territories. www.spc.int
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