We believe that our traditional organic farming methods when strengthened, coordinated and shared will meet the changing needs of our region and peoples and carry us forward into the future.
Many of the creation legends of the Pacific islands involve our lands being ‘fished up’ from the vast oceans – or conversely torrents of trapped waters being released and dividing people into separate islands creating the ‘ocean of islands’ in which our diverse peoples live: a population of around 9.5 million people scattered across an ocean area of approximately 30 million square kilometres of which less than 2% of this area is land. Some of our islands lay low in the water – less than a metre above sea level, and we are aware everyday that our survival in this great ocean continent is dependent on our protection of the small amounts of land we have.
The Pacific is facing a number of region-wide challenges, including the effects of climate change, degradation of ecosystems due to unsustainable use of both land and marine resources, and the need to generate livelihoods to maintain populations in the islands. Increased consumption of imported, highly refined foods, accompanied by decreased local food production and consumption, is also having serious effects on the health of island populations. The recent escalation in food prices can be added to the list. We are vulnerable, we are at risk and we don’t have a lot of options.
For the founders of the Pacific organic movement there was no doubt that organic agriculture can contribute to answering these challenges, there is also no doubt that we cannot act soon enough.
The work initiated and supported by IFOAM to develop the Pacific Organic Standard plus the formation of the Pacific Organic and Ethical Trade Community (POETcom) in 2009 to present a united voice for organic practitioners and stakeholders of the region has created considerable impetus in the region and organic agriculture is now included in the national development plans of almost all our Governments or Ministries of Agriculture. Increasingly organics is being recognised by our policy makers for the solutions it can offer and were greatly encourage by our Pacific Island leaders including support for organic agriculture in their submission to the Zero Draft.
We look forward to closer links with the organic world as we move on our path, none of us can do this alone. We are proud to be working with IFOAM who have provided not only great leadership in the organic world but also endless support and encouragement to us as we work to make organic agriculture the key contributor to sustaining our cultures, improving farmer livelihoods, communities and people health and the environment in the Pacific.