Last week, the Pacific Community (SPC) in collaboration with the New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) facilitated a workshop to discuss effective systems that protect fresh produce export commodities from pests and diseases and improve safe trade in the region.
The Phytosanitary Certification System workshop in Nadi, Fiji brought together over 30 participants from the Fiji Ministry of Agriculture and the National Plant Protection Organisation Biosecurity Authority of Fiji (BAF) officers. The workshop is part of the Enhanced Pacific Market Access Partnership funded by New Zealand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and implemented by MPI and SPC.
“We’re extremely proud to be part of the Ministry for Primary Industries collaborative partnership. We recognise the Pacific’s potential for fresh produce export trade and are interested in promoting this, while ensuring that phytosanitary measures are in place and export pathway standards are met,” said SPC's Integrated Programme Coordinator for Biosecurity Dr. Visoni Timote.
The workshop discussed opportunities to strengthen Fiji’s export certification system for fresh produce export pathways. This included Phytosanitary measures such as pest control activities, treatments, inspection and certification to ensure commodities are free of pests and diseases.
“The ultimate aim of this partnership is to empower Fijian producers to access export markets in New Zealand. This will allow producers to drive their own success whilst stimulating the economic development of Fiji,” said Biosecurity Authority of Fiji CEO Michael Bartlett during the opening event.
In his opening remarks, the Ministry of Agriculture Permanent Secretary Dr. Vinesh Kumar said the Government of Fiji was committed towards ensuring agriculture remains one of the main economic drivers for Fiji.
“This drive for agriculture to be the backbone of our economy remains, despite the impacts of the Coronavirus pandemic, and there have been lessons learnt and positive growth in the sector. We were focused on other known challenges to the sector such as climate change, but no one thought about COVID-19,” he stated.
Dr. Kumar acknowledged the support of the Government of New Zealand and SPC, recognising the strength of collaborative efforts to increase and improve trade in the region.
A representative of the NZ Ministry for Primary Industries, Ms Karen Pugh said the programme was taking a holistic approach that recognised the role of each component along the export value chain.
“We are committed to our partnership with Pacific government biosecurity agencies, SPC and other regional development partners. We cannot do this alone. We need to work together to improve safe trade in the region and improve the livelihoods of our people,” she said.
The Enhanced Pacific Market Access Partnership is being implemented in five countries, including Fiji, Samoa, Tonga, Vanuatu and Cook Islands, where similar training and workshops are being conducted to promote safe trade of approved fresh produce export commodities to New Zealand.
Maria Ledua, Enhanced Pacific Market Access Partnership (EPMAP) Project Coordinator, Pacific Community (SPC), Land Resources Division | [email protected]
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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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