1. Small island developing States (SIDS)1 have limited resources and options for social and economic development. Consequently, careful attention should be paid to the manner in which resources are utilized so as to ensure that adverse cross-sectoral impacts are minimized and that inter-temporal benefits flowing from the exploitation of renewable resources are not jeopardized.
2. SIDS have in common a number of structural problems: their populations, and therefore their markets, are small; their resource base narrow, fragile and prone to disruption by natural disasters; they typically depend for foreign exchange on a small range of primary product exports; and they generally have limited local capital for productive investment. In short, their base for revenue generation is narrow. Agriculture has been the backbone of many SIDS economies, providing the main source of livelihood for population as well as being a major export earner.
3. In advocating policies and actions for island States, it should be recognized that while SIDS have a measures of commonality in terms of features and experiences, island States do not represent an homogenous group. This means that in terms of their individual situations and possibilities for social and economic development, not all island States, or groups of States, are equally advantaged or disadvantaged. Some SIDS, for example, have extensive marine fisheries resources2 on which to base national development planning while other States, which may be less well resource endowed can benefit from their proximity to markets in developped countries, not only as an avenue for some exports, but also as a source of tourism.
4. In general terms. the intensification and diversification of agriculture, forestry and fisheries production is constrained in island States by both natural and economic circumstances.3 These circumstances include, inter alia, a shortage of land, poor soils, a limited capacity of land to support intensive crop and animal production, difficulties with storage of products after harvest in tropical environments, infrequent and restricted capacity for moving products by sea and air to markets, and distance from, and access to, markets outside the region.
5. There is now international recognition that island States face particular problems with respect to primary sector development and management. This recognition is increasingly reflected in recent international instruments of all types. Among instruments that have a direct bearing on food security4 and in which the situation of island States are noted specifically are the 1995 Kyoto Declaration and Plan of Action on the Sustainable Contribution of Fisheries to Food Security are the 1996 Rome Declaration on World Food Security, and the World Food Summit Plan of Action.5
6. Paragraph 28 of the Basis for Action of the World Food Summit Plan of Action notes that "Small Island Developing States face the threat of land loss and erosion due to climate change and sea level rise and have particular needs for their overall sustainable development. Improvements in transportation, communication, human resources, stabilization of income and higher export earnings will increase food security in these countries...." The situation of island States is therefore special in terms of broad initiatives to be adopted to promote long-term, sustainable food production in support of food security.
7. The following strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats that confront SIDS have been identified:
extensive traditional knowledge of the environment and natural resources and traditional management practice of resources;
possibilities for permanent outward migration and temporary migration for work as a means of reducing pressure on resources and available employment opportunities;
important cash remittances from abroad from islanders who have migrated overseas or who have found work outside their countries;
large EEZs in comparison to the size of land area and populations; and
established regional and international cooperation as is evident through general and specialised regional groupings and AOSIS.
limitations associated with smallness of scale;
difficulties in maintaining and improving the national contribution to food security;
a lack of national capacity to develop and implement policies for the sustainable use of agriculture and natural resources which is in part exacerbated by outward migration by skilled islanders;
limited national infrastructure to support increased and diversified production from primary sector activities;
geographic location and resulting disadvantages for some island groupings whichaffects their capacity to develop and market new products and to benefit generallyfrom market opportunities available. Relative isolation for some islands also inhibits the relative availability of energy, and transport and communication facilities. This isolation and lack of facilities can make these islands unattractive as tourist destinations; and
in forestry, a long lead-time is required to bring forests into production.
SIDS present opportunities for increasing primary sector production and diversification. These opportunities may be expected to make economies more buoyant and robust, to provide additional employment opportunities and possibly to generate additional foreign exchange;
mineral development, which although can be problematic in SIDS from the environmental perspective, can generate important revenue to support national development;
dietary improvement as a result of increased production and diversification;
economic diversification and development and improved income earning possibilities;
tourism development and strengthening, including the possibility of promoting small-scale eco-tourism;
enhanced policy coordination and integrated management so that links and impacts between agriculture, forestry, fisheries and other primary and secondary activities are assessed and managed more effectively;
strengthened regional cooperation among island States as well as opportunities for inter-regional cooperation and exchanges;
measures to improve value-added processing and related employment and national income benefits; and
privatisation of existing investments in the primary sector and the promotion of private sector investment.
fragile environments that may take many years to restore themselves following devastation by hurricanes etc.
generally, high rates of population increase, especially in the South Pacific and some countries in the Indian Ocean. This increase in population exerts pressure on all resources in island States and has major implications for the sustainable management of natural resources and food security;
impacts of climate change including sea level rise and the potential loss of land and infrastructure which is primarily located in the coastal zone and reef bleaching and habitat loss for reef associated species of fish and abnormal migration patterns for offshore pelagic species. In the extreme, the existence of some low-lying atoll States may be threatened completely by sea-level rise;
vulnerability of island States to natural hazards such as cyclone, volcanic eruptions and earthquakes which causes loss of life, major economic losses and disruption, including damage to, and loss of, infrastructure and impacts on crops, and other resources. Moreover, because of the size of most SIDS and the fact that many island States lie within natural disaster belts, such natural calamities normally affect the entire country when they occur and even neighbouring countries in some instances;
effects of forest fires and the introduction of pests of exotic species;
reduction of biological diversity through the loss of endemic species. Risks of extinction of some species are high in SIDS because of the their small size which prevents the setting aside of areas for strict protection purposes;
political and economic instability in some island States; and
intense competition, especially near urban centres, for land and water resources and space in the coastal zone.
8. SIDS are looking for opportunities to diversify their economies and especially the agricultural sector in order to move toward more marketable crops, to increase foreign exchange earnings, to maintain their significant agricultural basis, to increase their degree of food security and self-reliance by exploiting their resources more rationally and sustainably and to prevent unemployment from worsening. Diversification is one means of improving resource use, though implementing diversification policies which support return to home-produced foods to substitute some imports, cultivation of export crops for niche markets, changes in farming systems, alternative uses of forest products will be a slow process.
9. The small size of many SIDS makes competition for land severe. Table 1 indicates the major land use patterns of the SIDS. Large commercial plantations were established under the colonial system, and continue today in the more fertile plains, forcing many small farmers to cultivate the poorer soils in hilly regions. This, combined with poor land use practices, has resulted in deforestation and erosion. In low-lying coastal areas, land well suited for agriculture is under severe pressure from expanding housing, industry, and tourism. Undefined land tenure in a number of SIDS renders farmers unwilling to invest in agricultural development.
10. Generally, water resources are scarce, often limited to thin sheets of freshwater floating on seawater, recharged by rainfall. Poor management of watershed catchment areas and of water flowing through agro-ecosystems, particularly irrigation supplies, can lead to water scarcity and pollution of downstream supplies. Water resources for irrigation purposes have particularly been developed in the Caribbean (Table 1). Population pressure, expanding tourism, and reduced precipitation of recent decades, have resulted in the over-exploitation of aquifer resources leading to subsequent salt water intrusion in lands near the shore and salinisation of groundwater, as well as less land and water being available for agricultural purposes.
11. The most important food crops grown in SIDS are starchy staples such as cassava, sweet potato, yam, potato, cocoyam and taro and plantains and bananas which are mostly produced by small-holders (Table 2). Grain crops (e.g. maize, wheat, rice etc.), though consumed widely, are only grown on a limited scale. Due to the rapid rate of urbanization and the relatively low level of consumption of root crops and musa species in towns, these staple crops were increasingly substituted by imported cereals especially wheat and rice in the last decades. However, root and tuber crops remain the main source of nutrition in the rural areas of many SIDS.
12. The major export crops of SIDS include banana, sugar cane, cocoa, coffee and coconuts (Table 2). In many SIDS these crops are the most important net foreign exchange earners. Agricultural exports represent between 20 to 90% of the total trade exports (Table 3).
13. Livestock in SIDS (Table 4) is mainly based on poultry and pigs raised under traditional small-holder conditions, whereas commercial cattle production is a more recent development.
Macro-economic conditions and sustainable agriculture
14. SIDS are dependent to a great degree on the international trading system. Many of these countries receive some form of preferential access to developed-country markets. The EU and the US, for example, grant preferences to a number of SIDS under the Generalized System of Preferences. The EU provides additional preferences to 26 SIDS under the Lome convention for ACP countries. This dependence means that the achievement of sustainable agriculture is more complex than for countries which have to rely less on the world market. The integration of SIDS into the global economy is particularly difficult due to the following constraints:
limited population size making economies of scale and labor specialization impossible;
emigration of skilled personnel, and a high degree of dependence on foreign capital and external assistance;
a small monetized sector with local private investments limited to low-risk activities such as trade and services;
a heavy burden on the public sector faced with limited domestic income-generating capacity reliant on sources such as import duties, fishing rights and remittances from nationals working abroad;
a narrow resource base creating a dependence on imports of consumer and capital goods;
export limited to primary products from agriculture, forestry, fisheries and mining prone to considerable fluctuations in output and price.
Agricultural production systems
15. The sector in many SIDS generally comprises:
a large number of traditional small-holder farming systems that practice mixed cropping (root crops, pulse, vegetables, and perennials) mostly for home-consumption with a view of spreading their risks. They have limited access to traditional credit sources;
a small number of small commercial farms of high capital base and easy access to traditional credit sources;
a small number of large farms with high resource base and access to traditional credit, these dominate the agricultural sector and account for a large portion of production of traditional export crops (banana, sugar, coconuts, cocoa, coffee etc.);
a small number of large farms that are currently idle. This group is beginning to consider investment in traditional commodities.
16. Farmers have traditionally used few purchased inputs for their low-input/low-output production system. The introduction of new commercial crops (cocoa, bananas etc.) and traditional mono-cropped root crops has increased the demand for fertilisers, insecticides, improved tools and credit, while the rising cost of labour has led to the use of herbicides for weed control. Often these inputs are costly and not readily available.
17. The availability of farm labour is a persistent constraint. This is due to the emigration of a large part of the young male population in many SIDS and the alternative higher-income employment opportunities in commercial farming, urban areas and the tourist sector. As a consequence the percentage of female-headed households has increased. The cost of labour has increased and acts as a constraint on agricultural development. The high level of remittances from emigrants is a key factor in driving up local labour costs.
18. Planting material availability is generally inadequate to meet demand particularly if rapid expansion of production is to be undertaken. There is a strong dependence of SIDS on imported seeds for many crops. There is also a fundamental problem related to quality control due to the continuing and extensive use of planting material from preceding crops rather than certified and clean source of material.
19. With respect to plant protection SIDS have to cope with the stringent quality demands of agricultural produce by importers in industrialised countries or with the changing requirements of local food consumption especially in the tourist industry. This and the favourable climatic conditions for pest and diseases and the high cost of labour have led to the use of pesticides as a standard practice in the agricultural production systems. However, there is a lack of an efficient pest and pesticide control and monitoring program. Only few SIDS are participating in the Convention on the Prior Informed Consent (PIC) procedure which contains provisions for the exchange of information between exporting and importing countries about potentially hazardous chemicals.
20. Improper selection of produce for harvest and improper post-harvest handling, packaging and storage techniques due to the lack of knowledge and appropriate technologies, contribute to the substantial post-harvest losses in many SIDS. Exports of smallholder-grown root crops, fruits and vegetables are constrained by frequent failure to meet the quality and quarantine standards of importing countries and the irregular supply.
21. SIDS present the livestock producer with a series of disadvantages but relatively few advantages. Apart from keeping a few household pigs and poultry, more commercially orientated livestock keeping is relatively new. Geographic isolation and associated high transportation costs seriously affect the financial viability of any livestock enterprise dependant on imported inputs e.g. broilers and intensive egg and milk production. Unless there is a niche market, such as tourism, willing to pay a premium for a fresh product these enterprises are unlikely to be financially viable.
22. Major constraints include poor genetic stock, inadequate or poor nutrition, poor animal health services, high costs of purchased feed, problems in procurement of commercial feed, inadequate management of breeders and hatcheries, and labour shortage. Due to these major constraints, the scope for developing livestock production appears to be limited. There are possibilities of intensification in poultry in some of the larger islands. Greater support is needed to develop the livestock feed industry and to identify and establish market structures, as well as support services for smallholders.
23. There are traditionally two principal markets:
the domestic market for food and other products of the production system, and
the world market for tradable commodities (e.g. cocoa, coffee, copra, banana etc.).
24. The private enterprises and to a lesser extent, the semi-government organizations have developed relatively efficient marketing systems for the commercial crop sub-sector. The domestic marketing system which is usually based on non-institutional channels, mainly private intermediaries, is generally poorly developed. Due to the small and static population, remoteness of farms, poor infrastructure and high transport costs, low investment in market research, and poorly developed market information systems efficient marketing systems are difficult to establish.
25. There is a limited knowledge of the market place by producers and exporters. This includes the organization and structure of the markets dealt with as well as the nature of the operations and the participants involved in the markets. Information on competitors (equipment they use, sales force, prices, products, terms they offer etc) is generally lacking and makes an assessment of the competition difficult. Marketing economies of scale or the gains made by larger entrepreneurs are not available to the small volume producers and exporters in the SIDS. In reviewing the current practices, the habit of scattered uneconomical small-scale production of a wide variety of crops is evident. The provision of better market information is needed for more viable long-term production decisions.
26. A key constraint to be addressed in promoting exports is the high cost and limited availability of air and sea transportation systems, the lack of or poor fresh produce handling facilities, and inadequate or inappropriate transportation services for non-traditional produce. Plant quarantine issues also need to be addressed as they restrict market-access for produce.
Extension and research
27. The Ministries of Agriculture have the important role of implementing governments' agricultural policies and programs at the national level. The research and extension services are key to increase the productivity and output of agricultural enterprises.
28. Technological progress is markedly different among crops. Predominant traditional food crops such as cassava, taro and sweet potatoes, developed over the centuries, are relatively efficient in both production of calories and financial returns to labor input. Yields of coconuts and introduced crops such as cocoa, coffee and bananas have remained low despite the fact that most research and extension efforts in the past were directed at such introduced commodities. Part of the difficulty in successfully establishing introduced crops in the smallholder sector is because of lack of knowledge about how such exotic commodities fit into the traditional farming system.
29. In most SIDS agricultural research, mainly government-funded, is constrained by very limited human and financial resources. It is weakly linked to extension, the farmer, and other sectors such as agro-processing and tourism. Few SIDS have clearly identified research priorities, which are relevant to the smallholder sector. There is a considerable need to train local manpower in research and technology development at post-graduate level.
30. Many SIDS have marketing boards, which are statutory marketing authorities. They are geared primarily towards generating income from activities related to the export of traditional commercially-produced agricultural commodities and not generally available for use by the farmers and private exporters of these or other non-traditional agricultural products. They have not yet responded competitively to the growing and more efficient, private sector exporters of agricultural produce.
31. The impact of farmers organizations has been limited because they generally suffer from weak management, low level and quality of services, low participation of members and inadequate financial resources. However, there are some farmers organizations (e.g. in the Caribbean) where private exporters are the backbone of the export trade in non-traditional crops. These small and medium size operators tend to avoid formal credit institutions because of fear of debt and the associated collateral requirements. They prefer to seek informal credit services. In order to further commercialise agricultural operations there is therefore a need to change negative attitude to credit and a need for the credit institutions to devise financing schemes for small/medium commercial operators.
32. The current agriculture in SIDS is characterised by a combination of large-scale commercial production of cash crops and an important smallholder sector which produces crops primarily for local consumption. Agriculture in SIDS is in transition, driven by changing world markets, trade imbalances, the quest for food security and growing human population. Given the potential changes in trade preferences for traditional export crop industries (e.g. banana) and the objective of food security, agricultural diversification and intensification can contribute strongly to broaden the potential source of income of farmers. Exports of some basic raw food commodities, certain high-value fresh tropical fruits, niche-market fruits and vegetables during the northern winter season, and value-added processed foods are extremely important to small-, medium-and large-scale producers and processors and to the overall economy. Several SIDS are well suited to fresh fruit and vegetable production and some of them are relatively close to markets in Australia, New Zealand, Japan, USA and Europe. There is also a potential for inter-country trade or import substitution. Amore diversified production structure may provide greater stability in export earnings and promote import substitution. Provided a range of appropriate policies is implemented, diversification can contribute to sustainable agriculture, the sound utilisation of natural resources and the protection of the environment.
33. SIDS have some opportunities for increasing agricultural production and growth, and farmer's income could be improved, provided policies support advantages and address constraints. Aprecondition for tackling the constraints is to ensure that land, labour and capital markets are operating efficiently. The key characteristics of successful activities which could be developed in the future are:
returns to farm labour must be above average wage rates; labour intensive activities must be avoided unless returns are high;
exports will be as fresh produce (e.g. off-season supply), or with processing that can be done on the farm, is not expensive in relation to product returns, or can be done centrally, without the need for substantial economies of scale (e.g. specialist products);
produce must be storable without quality loss within the normal limits of transport;
produce must be high value in relation to transport cost;
quality must be according to consumer requirements, including presentation and packaging and quarantine.
34. Asuccessful strategy for agricultural diversification and intensification should comprise the following major activities:
35. Sustainable development in SIDS is directly dependent on or influenced by, the planning and utilisation of land resources. Mechanisms for an integrated planning and management of land resources including inland and coastal areas are of great urgency and importance for SIDS. FAO is promoting an improved approach to land resource management which emphasises the integration of physical, socio-economic and institutional aspects of land use, and stresses the need for active participation of all stakeholders in decision-making. It has also been involved in the development of national computerised land information systems including a comprehensive Geographic Information Systems database in the Caribbean. With this specific expertise, FAO could assist decision-makers and land users in increasing the effectiveness of land resource planning and management at the national and local level.
36. In order to protect the fragile ecosystem of SIDS sustainable production systems need to be developed. The following actions can be proposed:
Traditional or moderate input systems. Develop sustainable agro-forestry systems to: raise and diversify production, improve soil fertility, prevent soil loss and environmental degradation, and reduce dependence on external inputs.
Intensive high-input agricultural systems on lowlands. Introduce short- duration cover crops and legumes to improve soil fertility and structure, conserve moisture, reduce build-up of weeds and pests, reduce reliance on imported chemicals and fertiliser, minimise environmental degradation, and increase green fodder availability.
Farming systems research. Appraise socio-economic issues and feed this information into cropping trials and extend technology to the farming community using a farmer-to-farmer approach (e.g. Farmer Field Schools). Research should also focus on tree crops, new crops to be introduced, mixed perennial cropping systems, the multi-crop smallholders that utilise agroforestry systems, and livestock raising which optimises production and maintains soil productivity. In the future, a more holistic approach is needed with interdisciplinary and usually multi-institutional studies of ecosystem management, biological interactions of mixed crop, tree and animal production systems, including aquaculture. Assessment of indigenous knowledge and traditional production systems, and development of appropriate technologies for high and/or low potential areas needs to be carried out.
The bottom line for adoption of improved technologies is income generation, the economic merit must guide choices.
Seeds and plant genetic resources
37. Intensified and diversified crop production requires a strong seed program either at regional or sub-regional level. Elements of such strategy include:
the development of regional technical capability for seed supply to enhance, in a selective manner based on the country situation, the establishment of seed programmes;
the development of appropriate seed policy to enhance national and regional efforts in plant genetic resources utilisation and seed supply; and
development of a germplasm information network to link up the separate islands and bridge information gaps in the region.
38. FAO has implemented various interventions in the field of Germplasm Information Management and Seed Programmes in the past, and could assist in establishing appropriate seed programmes.
39. Exports of traditional crops have declined in recent years and productivity of nontraditional crops is low. In order to combat the serious decline in revenue, irrigation is an opportunity to reduce the unit cost of growing a crop by increasing yields and improving quality, and diversifying into other crops. In islands where water is scarce, integrated water management systems can be promoted. Localised irrigation systems, either high tech (drip, micro-aspersion) or low-tech (simple drip irrigation systems appropriate for gardening) can be introduced for high-value crops. In the highlands of arid or semi-arid islands, various types of water harvesting and runoff farming techniques can be introduced, mostly for human and animal consumption, and to a lesser extent for gardening.
40. Current pest control strategies based mainly on the use of pesticides should be reviewed. The practice of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is an alternative strategy for effective, efficient, balanced and environmentally safe pest control. SIDS are by definition relatively isolated areas of limited size were biological control can be effective, relatively easy to implement, because pests and diseases cannot spread easily to neighbouring territories, and their impacts on the natural ecosystem are often more predictable. Production could be undertaken in official Pest Free Areas (PFA) so as to meet special needs of niche export markets. Pest eradication programmes should be seriously considered when dealing with important crops and a small number of pests with a simple life cycle and infection/infestation process. Other areas of intervention are:
establishment of harmonized pesticide legislation and registration requirements to establish a common legal framework for the importation and distribution of pesticides;
monitoring of pesticide residues in the environment (e.g. drinking water) and in agricultural produce;
active participation and joint decision making within the PIC procedure; and
verification of the existence of obsolete pesticides and their disposal.
41. SIDS in general have a strong comparative advantage in the production of some tropical fruits (e.g. papaya, plantain, mango, pineapple, watermelon, dasheen, tania etc.), tuber/root crops (e.g. taro, yams, sweet potato, cassava), nuts and spices (e.g. canarium nut, Brazil nut, terminalia nut, vanilla, black pepper) vegetables and cut flowers. The potential for diversification into and intensification of these new crops (possibly under organic farming which excludes the use of agro-chemicals) for niche markets should be explored. Increased production would be absorbed both in the domestic market (e.g. local tourist market) either to meet increased demand or substitute for imports, and in export markets. Both traditional and non-traditional (new) crops should be cultivated on the basis of Integrated Crop Management and Conservation Farming principles in order to achieve sustainable and environmentally friendly production.
Post-harvest handling and agro-processing
42. Since a large proportion of agricultural produce such as root and tuber crops, fruits, and vegetables is locally marketed fresh, development of appropriate post-harvest processing and storage technologies are extremely important. Farmers, extension staff, middlemen and retailers in the local markets generally lack information on post-harvesting handling of fresh produce, proper packing, transportation and storage of the produce before sale. There is therefore a need to promote simple and low-cost technologies, preferably using local resources, for handling and packing fresh produce, to reduce damage during transportation and storage.
43. Considerable opportunities exist for expansion and diversification of agro-processing industries to produce added-value products to generate employment, which is much needed. Appropriate technology and expertise in agro-processing could be developed with a particular focus on developing small-scale, low-cost agro-processing ventures to increase the value and market potential of products (e. g. root crops, banana, breadfruit, tropical fruits, spices and coconut).
Animal production and health
44. Production and productivity of small-scale poultry and pig production can be increased using locally-available feeds. Development of feed mills, based on local ingredients could encourage semi-intensive indigenous livestock industry. Diversification, through the introduction of alternate livestock, such as ducks and pigeons, may be a possible option. The integration of livestock into mixed-farming and tree-crop systems has the potential to optimise use of crop residues and vegetation on uncultivated land, as well as to assist the recycling of soil fertility. Management skills, feeds and pastures in order to realise the full potential of improved breeds need to be upgraded. Niche markets for cheese and yoghurt as a more versatile product than fresh milk could be developed. Animal health services should be supported, local staff trained, and specific disease eradication programmes (e.g. Tropical Bont Tick in the Caribbean) be promoted.
Marketing and credit
45. The marketing strategy for SIDS agricultural exports to hard currency areas will hinge on joint marketing, promotion of commodities being sold in niche markets, monitoring the need for change in operating strategy as commodities enter into mainstream markets and the building of strategic alliances with market participants (producer/exporter/ importer alliances). Joint marketing services with strong private sector participation, should be knowledgeable of the markets, set standards, provide information and co-ordinate decisions on buying raw materials, transportation, packaging, training, quality, etc. in order to be more competitive. Existing Marketing Boards and private exporters could be seen as the agencies best placed to provide:
market intelligence and information;
exporter facilitation, and
develop farmer organizations (FOs).
46. The development and strengthening of FOs is an important aspect of ensuring the sustainability of the production of non-traditional agricultural commodities. Selected FOs should have commercial orientation, operate economic size units and secure land tenure. Exploiting organic agriculture markets may be possible in some cases.
47. Availability and accessibility of credit will be critical to achieving diversification and intensification of non-traditional commodities. Lending conditions should be sufficiently broad and flexible to allow for the kind of investments associated with on-farm development works envisaged including those for fruit tree crops with relatively long gestation periods.
48. The diversification and intensification process requires modifications to the institutions (public and private) engaged in the process. The organizational structures have to ensure that there are formal linkages at all levels of the diversification effort in order to establish the framework for a high level of cooperation and coordination of the national (and possibly regional) diversification policies, plans and programmes, and that there is a strong commitment to the diversification thrust which will result in a focused, coordinated approach involving all the key individuals, institutions and agencies.
49. At the national level, the Ministry of Agriculture in particular has a critical role to play in creating the environment for and facilitating the production of the non-traditional crops which fall under the diversification plan. It is responsible for:
providing support for the production of non-traditional crops;
mobilising the resources to ensure success in production;
advising farmers on crop types and production systems;
educating farmers to undertake farming as a business;
providing technical services in support of farm production operations;
motivating farmers to produce non-traditional crops to meet market demand.
50. The current functional organization of the ministries in many SIDS does not lend itself to providing the focused, crop-specific approach required to drive the agricultural diversification thrust. Agricultural diversification requires a pro-active, project-oriented and multi-disciplinary approach to develop the production/marketing systems required for the targeted nontraditional agricultural crops.
Human resource development
51. Skills of all actors (e.g. farmers, exporters, administrators and extension personnel) need to be permanently upgraded through specialized training and capacity building in the field of agronomic, financial management and marketing expertise. Particularly extension staff requires a reorientation to commercial farm management with attention to be paid both to productivity improvement and better business planning and to related training of farmers in improved organizational and managerial skills. Training and institution building will often be more effective if they are undertaken on a regional basis.
52. Exchanging experience and information among developing countries and taking advantage of complementarities to upgrade skills through Technical Cooperation among Developing Countries (TCDC) is highly cost-effective. TCDC has great potential that developing countries have not yet fully exploited. Regional groupings and mechanisms could promote and implement TCDC. Interregional technical cooperation among SIDS focusing on e.g. training, technical exchange, and attendance at regional meetings could be strengthened and FAO could play a supporting role.
53. Data bases, essentially for planning purposes, are generally weak in SIDS. Although the methodology for collecting, processing and analysing data for food and agriculture is available in most SIDS they lack adequate statistical organization and personnel, and understanding and coordination between statistical offices and economic analysis, planning and decision-making agencies. Particular attention should therefore be paid to establishing an institutional interdisciplinary framework. Additional data, new methods of data analysis, and appropriate tools to integrate environmental, social and economic considerations in decision-making are required.
54. FAO is developing an Internet-based Global Plant and Pest Information System (GPPIS) which is a global database for information on crops and pests. Once fully developed it will allow users to identify suitable crops for a specified environment and a defined use and retrieve crop husbandry descriptions at different levels (general, regional, country, and eco-zone). FAO has also developed databases and software such as FAO/ISCRC Soil Profile Database, Ecocrop-1, and AEZ for land use characterization/classification and Agro-Ecological Zoning. These information systems could assist in identifying new crops for specific SIDS environments.
Forest cover and recent changes in forest cover
55. Table 5 shows the forest cover of SIDS in 1995 and the change in forest cover occurring from 1990 to 1995.
56. As a group, SIDS are well-endowed with forests. However, due to the considerable variation in land area,6 population density and climatic, geological and topgraphic conditions, the extent of forest cover varies greatly between individual states. In 1995, forests covered from 74 to 85 percent of the total land area in Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu, under 10 percent in many of the smaller island States and less than 1 percent in Haiti.
57. Looking only at island States with a land area of less than 50 000 km2, the combined forest cover in 1995 was estimated at 35.4 percent of total land area, as compared to the world average of 26.5 percent. On the other hand, the annual deforestation rate from 1990 to 1995 in these island states (0.9 percent per annum) is three times the world average. The highest rates of annual deforestation, ranging from 2.6 to 7.2 percent, were found in Jamaica, Saint Lucia, Haiti, Bahamas and the Comoros. Cape Verde is the only small island developing state that registered a positive change in forest cover from 1990 to 1995.7
58. The main causes of deforestation include conversion of forested land for agricultural use and infrastructure development. The Solomon Islands, Samoa and Tonga are among countries with high rates of forest degradation due to heavy exploitation of timber resources. Forest degradation due to natural causes (e.g. cyclones and forest fire) is also common in some SIDS.
Trees outside forests
59. In SIDS with limited forest cover, trees outside forests (such as on agricultural land) often play a very important role for local livelihoods. It is an unquantified, undervalued resource, which, nevertheless, often is of very significant local value.
60. Many small island nations for instance have abundant coconut tree sources, which serve as sources of building materials, coconuts, copra and coconut oil for local populations.
Production, trade and consumption of forest products
61. Fifteen AOSIS members list timber or hardwood forests as one of their main natural resources.8 Of these, Fiji, Guyana, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Suriname and Vanuatu report wood processing as one of their main industries.
62. Table 6 lists the 1996 figures for production, trade and consumption of forest products for SIDS. With regard to industrial roundwood, Papua New Guinea is, by far, the largest SIDS producer and exporter and is the world's second largest exporter of tropical hardwood logs. The Solomon Islands is, in spite of its limited size, thus the world's sixth largest exporter of tropical hardwood logs and forestry contributed 64 percent of the total export value for 1996.9 Other major producers of industrial hardwood include Fiji and Samoa. There are, however, signs that the current level of wood production in Samoa, Solomon Islands and Tonga may not be sustainable.10
63. Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Solomon Islands, and Guyana are the main exporters of sawnwood. Many of the smaller States and territories in Oceania and all the States in North and Central America except Cuba are dependent on imports to meet their needs for sawnwood and wood-based panels and paper. Countries which rely on imports for a substantial part of their wood consumption for fuelwood and charcoal and/or industrial roundwood include Bahrain, Cyprus, Malta and Mauritius and some of the smaller States in the South Pacific region.
64. Table 7 lists the area of forest plantations established in those SIDS for which information is available. As can be seen from the table, most plantations reported are established for the purpose of wood production for industry. However, notable exceptions are found in Cape Verde and Cuba, where a large portion of the plantations are established for other purposes (e.g. fuel wood production and/or protective purposes).
National forest planning
65. Table 8 lists the SIDS which recently have developed or updated national forest programmes.11 26 out of a total of 45 States and Dependent Territories have a national forest programme. Most of these were developed in the late 1980s or early 1990s. Seventeen of the 26 programmes were developed under the Tropical Forestry Action Programme.
Regional and international forestry related organizations and programmes
66. The most important regional organization in the South Pacific is the South Pacific Forum, which represents Heads of Governments of all independent and self-governing Pacific Island countries, Australia and New Zealand. Forestry issues, especially the exploitation of tropical forests, have been highlighted at recent meetings. At the Twenty-fifth Session in 1994 an agreement to draft a Code of Conduct for logging in the South Pacific was reached. The Code sets minimum standards, which will allow selected forests to be harvested with the minimum of adverse impacts. The Code has been ratified by Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Fiji and Vanuatu.
67. Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Solomon Islands and Samoa are members of the Asia-Pacific Forestry Commission.
68. Environmental issues in the South Pacific are generally handled under the South Pacific Regional Environment Programme established in 1982 as a result of an increasing number of environmental problems being raised at the South Pacific Forum. Amajor regional forestry programme is the Pacific Islands Forests and Trees Support Programme, which provides institutional, training, and network support to the countries of the South Pacific.
69. In the Caribbean, the most prominent regional organization is CARICOM (the Caribbean Community and Common Market). The Agricultural Development Unit handles forestry issues of regional character. An FAO Technical Cooperation Network on Forestry and Related Environmental Matters also exists in the Caribbean.
70. In terms of international forestry organizations all but seven of the independent States covered in this paper are members of FAO.12 Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Guyana and Suriname are members of the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO).
71. Forests and trees contribute directly to food security through the provision of the following forest products:
Edible plant products: fruits, nuts and berries, leaves, shoots, roots and mushrooms. As a recent FAO report on the uses of trees and forests in the Pacific13 notes: "Food from trees are of immense value, whether as staples, supplementary foods, occasional snacks or famine foods. The nutritional importance of dominant staple tree crops such as coconut, breadfruit and bananas and plantains, fruit and nut trees, spices and sauces, and wildfoods is critical to the nutritional wellbeing of Pacific island peoples." Edible forest plants provide essential vitamins and trace elements to local populations, which may be of particular importance to children and women.
Edible animals and animal products: Not only large mammals but also other animals (e.g. insects, fish and birds) are consumed as bushmeat. Edible animal products include honey, eggs and birds' nests.
Animal fodder. Browse and fodder from forests and woodlands are important -not least in periods of drought.
Wood fuel. Most staple foods are unpalatable if not cooked or boiled. Forests and tree provide the necessary fuelwood and charcoal for local and national needs (more than 80 percent of energy in developing countries comes from wood). Fuelwood is also an essential resource for food preservation, in particular for smoking and drying (e.g. fish).
Implements and tools. Agricultural implements, food containers, boats and canoes, and hunting and fishing gear, are made from wood and non-wood fibre resources.
72. In addition to such direct benefits, forests and trees have important social and environmental functions, which indirectly contribute to food security. These include:
Income and employment provided by forestry activities increase the opportunity of people in rural communities to purchase food and other basic necessities. The specialized economies of many small island countries depend also, in a wider sense, on the protective, ecological, amenity and aesthetic functions of their forests and trees (refer to the roles of trees and forests and their links with agriculture, fisheries and tourism below).
Protective functions of trees and forests. Because of their limited land area, most of the small island nations and territories are characterised by comparatively short distances between uplands and coastal areas. Under such conditions, forest ecosystems are critical as regulators of water supply (for consumption and industrial uses and for generation of energy) in terms of both quantity and quality. Where the soils are highly erodible, replacement of the natural forest cover with agricultural crops providing less complete cover will result in increased erosion, which may lead to disruption of water supply, sedimentation problems of inland and marine water bodies and a lowering of water quality. Soil improvement roles14 of trees in small islands are likewise of importance to the success of agriculture and plant growth in nutritionally poor soils - especially coral based soils, which are among the least fertile in the worlds and where shifting cultivation and agro-forestry are the main forms of agriculture. Windbreak and shelter belts provide shade and shelter for agricultural crops and animals. Forests may also provide natural pesticides. Another important protective role for forests in small islands, in particular in the tropics, is as a means of coastal protection. Cyclones and strong winds combined with high rainfall levels and storm surges are common occurrences in many islands and forests act as buffers against the impacts of these. They also protect agricultural land from the effects of salt spray. Mangroves and other tidal forests stabilize tidal soils.
Conservation of biological diversity. Small islands do not often possess a high degree of biological diversity in terms of number of different plant and animal species. However, the percentage of endemic species is often very high15 and the size of individual populations is often quite small, which renders them more susceptible to extinction. The conservation of biological diversity - both directly in the forest and indirectly by protecting associated ecosystems such as coral reefs - is, therefore, from a global perspective one of the most important environmental roles played by forests in small islands.
Links with marine ecosystem. A prominent environmental role of coastal forests such as mangroves and tidal forests is the production of leaf litter and detrital matter, which enters the marine food web. Mangroves are highly productive ecosystems and their importance as feeding ground, breeding and nursery grounds for numerous commercial fish and shellfish - including most commercial tropical shrimps - is well established. In addition, mangrove forests act as a sediment trap for upland run-off sediments, thus protecting sea grass beds, nearshore reefs and shipping lanes from siltation and reducing water turbidity.
Links with tourism. Forest-based tourism and recreation is on the increase. Whereas the forests on small islands may rarely be the primary attraction for overseas visitors, they have a great potential, in some islands (e.g. Dominica), to complement dive sites and other primary attractions. In addition, coastal forests are critical in maintaining the health of coral reefs, which, in turn, protect beaches from sand erosion. Thus, in the Caribbean and some Pacific island states, they are an indirect but critical resource for the mainstream tourism industry.
73. These many and important roles of trees and forests in small islands call for a holistic and integrated approach to forest conservation and development taking into account not only the direct benefits obtainable from the forests but also the links with associated natural ecosystems and other economic sectors.
74. Small island countries vary enormously according to distinct geographic, biological, social, cultural, and economic characteristics but share many common disadvantages, which constrain their efforts to conserve and sustainably use their forest resources. These include:
Limited land area and natural resources16. Relief, climatic variations and small size of island countries limit the amount of land available for productive purposes and intensify competition among alternative land use options including land which must be protected (forested watersheds, national parks and protected areas). This puts severe limits on the diversification of economic activities. The short distance between highlands and coastal areas and the relatively limited size of watersheds combine to make soil and water conservation a priority.
Vulnerability to natural hazards such as cyclones, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes and climate extremes. Several plantation projects in SIDS have been devastated by cyclones in the recent past17 and efforts at tree improvement have been severely hampered e.g. in Fiji due to damage caused to seed stands and research trials by cyclones. Forest fires caused by natural or man made events can also be a serious constraint to sustainable forest development. Like all land-based systems in small island states and low-lying coastal areas, forests are threatened in the long term by rising sea levels associated with global climate change;
High species endemism and high risk for loss of biological diversity. A high degree of endemism, but relative small population size of the various species, impose high risks of species extinction. At the same time, the smallness of the area of many SIDS makes it difficult to set aside large areas for strict protection purposes. Of particular concern to production forestry is also the considerable erosion of forest genetic resources which has occurred in association with deforestation and forest degradation. A number of socio-economically important tree species, including more sought-after commercial timber species such as sandalwood (Santalum spp.), kauri pine Agathis spp. and rosewood (Pterocarpus indicus) and species used for traditional handicrafts such as Cordia subcordata, Intsia bijuga and Thespesia populnea, are, for instance, endangered in part or all of their natural range in the South Pacific.18 There is thus a clear need to develop suitable strategies for conservation of biological diversity including the in situ and ex situ conservation of forest genetic resources.
Population pressures. Population density is usually high and concentrated in lowland areas, which increases pressure on already limited resources in such areas.
Economic constraints due to smallness of scale. Such constraints include: high costs for public administration and infrastructure including transport and communications; small internal markets; limited export volumes, sometimes from remote locations, leading to high freight costs and reduced competitiveness; and difficulties in establishing competitive forest processing industries.
Institutional constraints. These include, according to FAO (1992):19
lack of articulated up-to-date forest policies, even when forest legislation exists;
generally weak national forest agencies, endowed with limited material/financial resources;
lack of awareness or appreciation among government and other officials, and the general public, of the role and contribution of forests and trees to the general wellbeing of their communities and to sustainable development;
inadequate quantitative data on these benefits, particularly in monetary terms;
inadequately trained and experienced staff and funds to study and collect these data, and to effectively address the awareness issue discussed above (due to high levels of migration, particularly of skilled human resources); and
inadequate coordination, collaboration and cooperation among national forestry and related agencies in the planning and implementation of their work and other programmes, and in relation to forestry assistance programmes provided by donor countries due to the sharply increased competition for resources.
Although much progress has been made since 1992, many of the above institutional constraints are still valid in some SIDS.
Tenure. In many small island states and territories in the Pacific, land is generally under customary ownership (i.e. owned communally or by families rather than by the state or by individuals). Where land tenure is individual, the inheritance system either fragments physical parcels of land (e.g. Kiribati) or fragments ownership rights (e.g. Cook Islands and Nauru, where pieces of land too small to support a single family may have a hundred or more legal owners20). Natural resource management thus involves many stakeholders and decision makers and poses constraints (e.g. on wildlife conservation and sustainable forest management efforts).21
Lack of integrated land use planning. Limited natural resources, competition for land and adverse cross-sectoral impacts of different land uses call for integrated land use planning. However, only few SIDS have well defined land use plans.
Lack of sustainable forest management practices. Unsustainable forest management practices have, in some instances, led to the degradation of forest resources, soil erosion and siltation of downstream areas. Overexploitation of commercial timber resources is common and inappropriate harvesting practices are often employed. Forest industries are frequently running below capacity. Technical constraints to plantation development and tree planting programmes include the lack of access to seed of high genetic and physiological quality (e.g. cited as a major constraint to tree planting programmes within the South Pacific region).22
Long time-frame needed. A constraint specific to forestry is the long time frame needed e.g. in plantation development, which increases the risks of changes in demand and/or changes in legal provisions (e.g. land tenure) and the risk of failure due to natural calamities, pest and diseases. This can be a major disincentive to tree planting and sustainable forest management by private individuals.
75. The short term prospects for forest production intensification in terms of wood production in natural forests is limited in most SIDS. Although many of the larger SIDS are well endowed with forests, not all forest are accessible and harvesting of commercial species is, in many places, already undertaken at levels which are unsustainable. In many of the smaller SIDS no, or no significant, forest cover exists. In the medium to long term, increases in production from natural forests depend on the adoption of environmentally sound forest harvesting practices and the application of appropriate silvicultural practices - in many cases including enrichment planting of previously harvested areas.
76. An increase in wood production from plantations is possible in some of the larger SIDS. Fiji is an example of a country which already has a well developed plantation development programme. Plantation-based timber production is planned to become a major growth sector in the national economy by the year 2000, with more than 70,000 ha of mahogany plantations being harvested at a rotation age of 35 years. However, the competition for limited land area, at times combined with customary ownership (see above), limits the potential for large-scale plantation establishment in many States. Lack of good soils is also a limiting factor in some SIDS (particularly those which are coral-based).
77. Agroforestry systems with coconut as the main wood resource seem to hold the most promising prospect as a sustainable land use system for atoll States and territories with low soil fertility and for smaller states where availability of land is a limiting factor.
78. Where planting of trees is undertaken in area prone to cyclones, species which exhibit good resistance to wind damage should be promoted.23
79. Value-added wood processing, in particular of local hardwoods, offers good prospects for diversification in SIDS well endowed with forests. Good prospects also exist for diversification in terms of the provision of non-wood goods and services.
80. Non-wood forest products (plant products collected from the wild or cultivated in plantations or agroforestry systems, animals hunted in the wild or raised in captivity and animal products such as honey) should be promoted where a niche market exists or can be developed.
81. Tourism is one of the most important income earning industries in many SIDS and interest in eco- or nature-based tourism is increasing. Various islands have thus made special efforts to develop the tourist potential of their forest areas, among which are Pohnpei in the Federated States of Micronesia, Dominica, Jamaica and St. Lucia.
Enhancement of the indirect support to improved food security
82. Conservation, enhancement and sustainable use of the forest resources is not only important for the direct benefits to improved food security, but also for the indirect benefits in terms of support to other sectors and the protective functions of forests (see above).
83. Special efforts may be needed in terms of reforestation of degraded areas (e.g. watersheds) and in most islands, planting in coastal areas is necessary to protect against coastal erosion. Protection of mangrove areas, which are highly resistant to storm damage, is particularly important in this regard.
84. In addition to the maintenance and enhancement of forest cover, conservation of biological diversity is of economic importance both from productive (forestry and agriculture) point of view and in support of nature based tourism activities.
Medium term outlook for the sub-sector
85. The Melanesian SIDS (Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Fiji and Vanuatu) are all relatively well endowed with significant land area, fertile soils and natural resources. Their export bases are, however, narrow. The medium to long term forestry prospects will rely on the adoption of sustainable forest management practices in the natural forests; the establishment of plantations and the further development of appropriate wood processing industries.
86. The SIDS of Polynesia and Micronesia are generally less well endowed with resources. Those which are of volcanic origin, (e.g. Samoa and Tonga) have rich soils and agriculture or forestry provide development options. Samoa is presently the only Polynesian country with a timber export industry. However, most of the smaller islands are coral-based and have very poor soils, small land areas and few land-based natural resources. Tourism, fisheries, foreign aid and expatriate remittances are likely to be the main income earning possibilities in these islands. Agroforestry systems with coconut as the main wood resource seems to hold the most promising prospect as a sustainable land use system for atoll States and territories.
87. In the Caribbean SIDS, the main focus is expected to continue to be on tourism. Forest are mainly needed to safeguard freshwater supply and for conservation of biological diversity. Nevertheless, production of wood and non-wood forest products could play an increasingly important role in import substitution (e.g. lumber for artisanal furniture production or wood energy).
88. The lowland forests of Belize, Guyana and Suriname are of a great economic potential, but the timber and other forest resources are under-priced and an inadequate contribution is currently received from their utilization.
89. Regional differences between SIDS, and even between SIDS of the same region, affect natural resource endowments for inshore, offshore and inland capture fisheries as well as the capacity of island States to promote the development of aquaculture. It is therefore difficult to make generalisations about fisheries and aquaculture in SIDS, and any such generalisations must be premised on caution.
90. Fish are a critical source of animal protein for populations in island States.24 Fish therefore figures heavily in the food security equation in these countries. Largely by necessity per caput fish consumption rates in SIDS are high by international standards. FAO fish consumption data are shown in Table 9. These data indicate that:
Per caput consumption rates of fish range from a high of 153.2 kgs per annum in the Maldives to 2.2 kgs in Guam.
In 22 SIDS fish accounts for more than 20 percent of animal protein, in 15 countries fish accounts for more than 30 percent of animal protein, while in six States, fish accounts for more than 50 percent of the animal protein intake.
In 22 SIDS fish accounts for more than 10 percent of the total protein intake and in nine States, fish accounts for more than 20 percent of the total protein intake.
91. Contrary to generally held perceptions (i.e. the notion that '... small island States are surrounded by water and good quality fresh fish is plentiful and cheap... '), fish is not a cheap commodity in SIDS. This is due to a number of reasons, including, inter alia, the over-exploited state of most of the accessible inshore fish stocks and competition by exporters and the local tourist industry. For these reasons, other types of imported animal products (e.g. lamb/mutton in the South Pacific and chicken in the Caribbean) compete with local fish supplies. Indeed, it is not uncommon for fish to be imported into SIDS, sometimes in large volumes, to meet the national demand from the population and the tourist industry. Table 9 shows that 29 SIDS are in fact net importers of fishery products.
92. In many island States women play a key role in promoting food security through their activities in the fisheries sector. While women do not normally engage in fishing per se, except from shore (i.e. they do not fish from water bound craft), their activities within the sector include the processing of part of the catch (though generally there are not strong processing traditions in SIDS), and marketing. This activity extends to the distribution and sale of both inshore catches from artisanal and small-scale fishermen, and the by-catch of industrial fleets (e.g. trawl 'trash' fish and discardable species from tuna fleets). This industrial catch can be important for food security in urban areas in island States as the by-catch species are usually available to the most disadvantaged groups at an affordable price (e.g. Solomon Islands).
93. In artisanal and small-scale fisheries in SIDS the incidence of discarding of catch is low, with catch utilisation reaching virtually 100 percent. However, in industrial fisheries, and in particular in those fisheries that are not based in island States, the incidence of discarding of by-catch is, by necessity, higher than for the other locally-based fisheries.
94. The Kyoto Declaration and Plan of Action on the Sustainable Contribution of Fisheries to Food security makes specific reference to SIDS. In this regard the Declaration and Plan of Action note that many developing countries, in particular low-income food deficit countries and SIDS (i) face major challenges in ensuring the sustainable contribution of fisheries to food security; (ii) require technical and financial assistance in order to enable them to realize the sustainable contribution of fisheries to food security and social and economic development; and (iii) should cooperate among themselves in order to achieve the contribution of fisheries to food security.
95. In general, inshore capture fisheries adjacent to centres of urban population are heavily fished if not overfished, while inshore fisheries in outer islands tend to be only lightly exploited because of lower population densities and the paucity of market infrastructure to move product to urban markets. Species harvested in coastal areas are usually mixed, with some species (e.g. deepwater snappers) being of high quality and value. A range of traditional and introduced harvesting techniques are used in these fisheries, with motorised craft being common where there is access to fuel and basic engine maintenance. The use of destructive fishing practices (e.g. dynamite, cyanide and bleaching), although outlawed in most SIDS, continues to be common in some islands.
96. A range of environmental considerations including the effects of El Niño which can lead to abnormal fish stocks behaviour for offshore resources and coral reef bleaching and loss of habitat for reef associated species, adversely impacts the capacity of marine capture fisheries to support productive and sustainable fisheries. These considerations are exacerbated by overfishing and the need for realistic and socially acceptable conservation and management arrangements. It has been shown in many developing countries (including SIDS) with increasing regularity, that conventional approaches to fisheries management have not been effective in promoting sustainable resource utilisation. As a result, innovative approaches to management that build on traditional institutions and conservation and management knowledge and practice are now considered to be more appropriate. This recognition has given rise to the promotion of community-based fishery management, which has been successfully demonstrated to be implementable in those island States populated by indigenous communities where marine use tenure systems remain intact, or largely intact.
97. Offshore capture fisheries and associated processing provide major economic benefits for the island States of the South Pacific and the Indian Ocean, and to a lesser extent in the Caribbean, although there is increasing interest in such fisheries among several Caribbean States. Tuna and associated species are the main stocks targeted, usually by foreign fleets from Asia, Europe and the United States of America. In the South Pacific about 1 million tonnes of tuna is harvested annually. This catch has a 'wet', on board value of around US $1.6 billion.25 In this region some 80 percent of the catch is taken within the exclusive economic zones (EEZs) of SIDS. In the Indian Ocean the tuna and other pelagic catch is about 1.1 million tonnes per annum with a value of some US $ 2.3 billion. An estimated 50 percent of this catch is taken on the high seas in this region mostly by non-Indian Ocean States.26 In both, the South Pacific and the Indian Ocean only a small proportion of total tuna catches are taken by SIDS' fleets. In the Caribbean only a small proportion of pelagic resources are taken within the EEZs of island States.
98. An important policy consideration for all SIDS where there is significant offshore fishing, either within areas of national jurisdiction or on the high seas, is the need to secure additional benefits from the exploitation of regional fish stocks. Some island States (e.g. Seychelles, Federated States of Micronesia, Palau and Papua New Guinea) have taken progressive measures to increase their economic linkages with offshore fisheries by, inter alia, encouraging the development of national fleets, either through direct investment in vessels or through flag changes. In addition, steps have also been taken by some island States to facilitate the use of their ports, and where necessary, to make the generation of secondary economic benefits (e.g. the transhipment of fish in port rather than at sea) conditional on fishing access to their EEZs. These measures, in many instances, have turned out to be mutually beneficial for both the island States and the foreign fleets.
99. Both inshore and offshore marine capture fisheries are central to tourism development in SIDS. Inshore resources are important for water sports, while the sports fishing industry hinges on the availability of offshore resources. To retain their popularity as water sport/sport fishing destinations, SIDS must ensure that policies are in place to carefully and sustainably manage tourism: on the one hand there is a need to facilitate the maintenance of fish stock abundance, and on the other, a requirement to prevent tourists from engaging in such practices as habitat and environmental degradation (e.g. removing corals, shells and other animals from reefs).
100. Inland capture fisheries are not of major importance for most island States. However, in some of the larger island countries (e.g. Fiji, Jamaica and Papua New Guinea) catches of finfish, freshwater prawns and shellfish contribute in a significant way to food security and provide economic opportunities for self-employment, often for women. However, the prospects for increasing production from inland fisheries is SIDS is not great, though like their marine counterparts, inland capture fisheries are in need of management.
101. Regional cooperation in marine capture fisheries among SIDS is well developed in all regions. Island countries recognize that given their limited national financial and human resources, cooperation is essential in fisheries given that many of the stocks utilised are shared and fisheries challenges are faced. Cooperation is pursued through regional organizations such as the Pacific Community and Forum Fisheries Agency in the South Pacific; the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the Organization for Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) and the Western Central Atlantic Fishery Commission (WECAFC) in the Caribbean; and the Committee for the Development and Management of Fisheries in the Southwest Indian Ocean of the Indian Ocean Fishery Commission (SWIO/IOFC).
102. Regional fisheries cooperation ranges from the sharing of fisheries and related information, joint training and research programmes, to collaboration in monitoring, control and surveillance (MCS). Indeed, regional cooperation in the area of MCS, as a means of responsibly strengthening fisheries management, is being pursued as a matter of importance in both the Caribbean and South Pacific regions. Efforts to strengthen regional fisheries cooperation at all levels and in all areas should be actively encouraged among SIDS grouping given the benefits that such cooperation can bring.
103. Aquaculture is being promoted in SIDS to augment fish production (e.g. tilapia culture in Jamaica and Fiji for food and for export) together with other marine products such as pearls (e.g. Cook Islands), seaweed (e.g. Kiribati and Tonga) and aquarium fish. Reef enhancement is being tested with a variety of organisms in various states, but its viability is still to be demonstrated. The culture of these products provides national employment opportunities and revenue where exports are involved. However, the extent to which island States can participate in culture-based fisheries, and the nature of the products that are economically viable for culturing, is determined largely by their proximity to international markets and the availability of transport services. Caribbean States are generally better placed than SIDS in other regions to engage in culture-based activities for export in view of their adjacency to large North American markets.
104. In aquaculture a number of regional programmes and networks exist to facilitate information flows and dissemination of technical information. Notable among these regional aquaculture initiatives are the FAO South Pacific Aquaculture Development Programme, the International Center for Living Aquatic Resources Management (ICLARM), the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR), the Japan Overseas Fisheries Foundation (OFCF) and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) in the South Pacific. In the Caribbean a number of institutions have been active in promoting regional activities in aquaculture, including CARICOM, the US National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), and the US Agency for International Development (USAID).
105. A number of factors can be identified that constrain the development and manage of the fisheries sector in island States. These factors include, inter alia:
A lack of institutional strength and capacity on the part of the public sector to manage the fisheries sector. Improving capacity is seen as being a vital prerequisite for enhancing the overall management of the sector and thereby realising its full contribution to national food security and social and economic development. It is being increasingly recognized that as a result of high staff turnovers in small national fisheries administrations, institutional strengthening and capacity building, particularly in terms of human resource development, requires an on-going and long-term commitment on the part of island governments and technical assistance agencies.
Difficulties associated with improving inshore fisheries management, using traditional knowledge and practice through community management and relocating fishing effort to offshore areas in those cases where pressure on resources is less intense, must be overcome if sustainable fisheries are to be achieved. To address constraints of this nature a coordinated set of policies is required that would involve, for example, training, extension, new vessel design, finance, and even new port facilities. As part of improving fisheries management, islands States, individually and collectively, are urged to take steps to implement the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries, and to ratify and accept respectively, the UN Fish Stocks Agreement and the Compliance Agreement, and to ensure that action is taken to give effect to these Agreements.
High post-harvest losses due to poor fish handling and limited and underdeveloped national and international fish marketing arrangements constrain fisheries utilization. For inshore catches the main marketing problem is moving fish from outer areas to urban centres, while maintaining quality and being able to offer fish at a reasonable price. This problem is not unique to SIDS but there are particular difficulties that may not be encountered, or which are less pronounced, in continental States (e.g. non-availability of regular ice supplies).
Inadequate safety regulations and systems for fishers, especially those that operate beyond the immediate inshore areas inhibit a better distribution of fishing effort. Many islanders are lost at sea each year because fishing in bad weather, fishing with inappropriate craft and gear and a general lack of knowledge about safety at sea (e.g. no or insufficient life saving equipment is carried on fishing craft). The prospect of loss of life at sea constrains fishers from extending their operations seawards and away from heavily exploited inshore fisheries.
Immature national fishing industries, many of which are public sector owned, and a weak private sector affects the extent to which the fisheries sector can contribute to national development. SIDS would benefit from assistance to privatize publicly owned investments and to put policies in place that would facilitate a strong and vibrant private sector. While recognizing that many SIDS have low absorptive capacity for investment because of their size and indeed may have difficulties in attracting investment for that reason, well defined policies to attract national and foreign investment, supplemented by legislation that provides reasonable protection for investors, should be vigorously encouraged.
The current lack of aquaculture and inland fisheries development in small island States constrains the overall contribution of the fisheries sector to food security and national economic development. Most SIDS have yet to realize their full potential for the development of aquaculture and inland fisheries. In particular, measures to promote sustainable aquaculture and reef enhancement are required, while ensuring that inland capture fisheries are harvested in a rational manner.
106. The prospects for increasing production from marine capture fisheries resources in island States vary regionally:
In the Caribbean region many of inshore resources are already heavily fished, if not overexploited, so the chance of substantially increasing coastal production is not promising. In this region production increases are likely to come from offshore resources (e.g. pelagic resources), but these resources, which are subject to management by the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT), are targeted by foreign fleets. Nevertheless, several Caribbean States are actively increasing their fisheries for offshore resources, with the intention of operating within the ICCAT framework.
In the Indian Ocean inshore fisheries are also heavily fished, except for countries such as the Maldives, where reef related stocks are viewed as being important for tourism. In other countries improved marketing of inshore product could stimulate production within sustainable bounds. However, any significant increase in production would have to come from offshore fisheries, which are also being exploited by foreign fleets, and subject to management by the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC).
Inshore fisheries in the South Pacific are also generally overfished except in more remote areas and outer islands. There are prospects for increasing production from these fisheries, but there are major difficulties in marketing. The greatest potential for increasing production comes from offshore pelagic resources, many of which are considered, at the present time, to be underexploited. In the near future these offshore resources may come under management regime currently being negotiated within the provisions of the UN Fish Stocks Agreement. However, it might also be in the interest of island States to regulate the production of some species of tuna (e.g. skipjack and yellowfin tuna destined for the canning market) as a means of supporting higher fish prices, and in turn, the economic return countries receive from the exploitation of these resources.
107. In all small island States, limited potential exists for increasing fisheries production from aquaculture and reef enhancement activities. In most countries, it is not envisaged that aquaculture will make major contribution to finfish production in support of national food security. Rather, the major benefits are likely to be realized from the production of high-valued, niché products for export or for the local tourist market.
108. The fisheries sector in many island States does not offer significant prospects for diversification in terms of production. However, an exception is the growth industry in the South Pacific whereby locally caught fish (e.g. snappers and tunas) are being air-freighted to markets both in and outside the region. Snappers, for example, are being shipped to markets in Australia, New Zealand and United States of America, while high-grade tuna is being airlifted to sashimi markets in Japan and the United States of America.
109. With respect to the diversification of value-added processing, some possibilities exist and new markets are opening up. Astudy on this subject recently commissioned in the South Pacific has identified a wide range of new products, largely based on tuna, appropriate for processing in island States. Likewise in the Caribbean, WECAFC is involved in promoting new fish products for human consumption, partly due to the rising demand for fish and fishery products in that region.
110. Considering the small geographical size of many SIDS, externalities of any economic activity will most likely be felt on the whole island, especially in coastal areas. Increasing levels of economic activities further exacerbate the already evident over-exploitation of coastal resources and environmental degradation of many coastal habitats. Different sectors often adversely impact each other through conflicting or competitive use of natural resources. Examples of such impacts are as follows:
Uncontrolled and unregulated discharge of tailings from the Paguna copper mine on Bougainville Island in Papua New Guinea destroyed freshwater fish habits in the Jaba River and also marine habits on the reefs surrounding the mouth of the river.
In the Western Province of the Solomon Islands logging of tropical forests caused erosion and siltation of rivers. This silt, in turn, was deposited in coastal areas and this adversely impacted the baitfish fishery which was critical to the pole-and-line tuna fishery.
In Seychelles, inappropriate constructions and navigation channels, destruction of dunelands, unauthorised mining of sand, deforestation, insufficient drainage are eroding coastal areas. Coral reefs are also being degraded by illegal anchoring.
In Mauritius, coral reefs are being degraded by fishing gear and anchoring, waste from the tourism industry, and sand extraction. Coastal constructions and soil erosion modify the sediment dynamic and thus adversely impact coral reefs.
In the Gulf of Paria, Trinidad and Tobago, adverse changes have occurred in the working and living conditions of the fishers during the last decade due to declining fish catches and unfavourable changes in catch composition. Among the reasons for this change are excessive harvesting rates, especially by commercial bottom-trawlers that also damage the seabed. Habitat destruction occurred due to degradation of coastal wetlands and increased sediment loads caused by quarrying and slash-and-burn agriculture. Pollution was mainly due to oil spills, seepage and cargo ships operations, oil refineries but also to chemical waste from industries, sewage, and run-off of agricultural inputs. Extensive aerial spraying of pesticides over vast areas of sugar cane plantations creates concerns about the potential impact of pesticide on fishing communities and fisheries.
In Soufrière Bay, Saint Lucia, expansion of tourism on coastal environments and changes in fishing technologies created serious conflicts between different groups of users of the coastal resources: pot fishers competed with diving operators for access to reef areas, traditional seine fishers lost fishing territories to permanent yacht moorings and jetties, and all sectors began to suffer from the effects of general resource degradation and over-exploitation.
111. Because various sectors interactions are often more intense in SIDS than in other countries, integrated planning and management would allow a better coordination between sectors so that environmental externalities could be minimized, conflicts between users reduced, and synergies enhanced. More specifically, integrated coastal area management would entail a participatory process of problem and solution identification that will benefit all sectors and users.
112. The process should result in the definition of an agreed strategy, including institutional arrangements that will allow each sector to address interactions and include the necessary measures to enhance production while conserving the resource base. Such a process however, needs to be undertaken gradually and phased as more experience and knowledge are acquired. It will also create more awareness as each sector will increase its capacity to identify the externalities it generates on the environment and quantify and qualify its contribution to the economy, social well-being, and environmental health, including the incurred losses due to environmental degradation.
113. Despite constraints stemming from their small size, geographic location, scope and scale of current activities and limited possibilities for expansion and diversification, agriculture, forestry and fisheries, and in some cases minerals, are critically important for SIDS. The importance of primary production, and the special situation of developing island States vis-à-vis other developing States, has been clearly recognized in international fora and reflected fully in international instruments arising from those fora.
114. The proposed Plan of Action for the intensification and diversification of agriculture, forestry and fisheries in SIDS recognizes the need to pursue an integrated approach to planning and management so as to minimise undesirable inter-sectoral impacts that could inhibit long-term sustainable production. The Plan also takes cognisance of the relative strengths and weaknesses that island States face and the strengths and opportunities at their disposal.
115. For agriculture, the proposed Plan of Action would focus on the following priorities:
integrated land resources planning and management to facilitate policy decisions with respect to sustainable land use;
diversification of agricultural production through the introduction/expansion of non-traditional crops for both local consumption and export markets;
intensification of agricultural production through improved local production of planting material, Integrated Crop and Pest Management, and low-cost irrigation and water-harvesting techniques;
improved post-harvest and agro-processing systems;
improved commodity marketing system for non-traditional crops;
institutional strengthening and capacity building; and
information systems for better planning and knowledge sharing.
116. In forestry, the priorities for the Plan of Action are to reduce the deforestation rate and increase forest coverage; maintain and develop the multiple direct and indirect contributions of forests, trees and forestry to food security; to the conservation and sustainable use of land and water resources, including the protection of watershed; and as reservoirs of biological diversity through:
Assessment and monitoring of forest and woodland resources to facilitate policy decisions based on reliable information on status and trends of forest resources and underlying causes of deforestation.
Promoting rehabilitation and conservation of forest lands and watersheds and where necessary and sustainable upgrade the productive capacity of these resources and by establishing policies that create economic and social incentives to reduce degradation.
Establishing policies and implement programmes to optimise, in an economically, socially and environmentally sound manner, sustainable forestry production aimed at achieving food security.
Minimising the vulnerability to and impact of climate fluctuations, forest fires, pests and diseases through the preparation of disaster preparation and mitigation strategies.
Promoting the adoption and implementation of integrated land use planning processes, which take into consideration the linkages and interactions between forest and other natural ecosystems and economic sectors.
Promoting the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity and its components with a view to enhancing food security, notably through supporting the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, 1992 and through the development of suitable national or regional strategies for the in situ and ex situ conservation of forest genetic resources.
Promoting, through participatory means, the sustainable, intensified and diversified production and use of food, fodder, fuel and other products derived from forests to enhance food security.
Promoting sharing of information and viable technology transfer.
Implementing human resource development through the strengthening of forestry education, training, skills development and extension systems; and
Participating actively in and supporting international cooperation in research to improve food security.
117. With respect to fisheries and aquaculture, the proposed Plan of Action should focus on the six areas of the FAO Programme of Fisheries Assistance to Small Island Developing States. This Programme has been developed in close consultation with SIDS and approved by the FAO Governing Bodies. These areas of assistance/action are:
Institutional strengthening and national capacity building: the need to foster the development of effective and competent national fisheries administrations and to strengthen the fisheries conservation and management capacity of these administrations.
Enhanced conservation and management of EEZ fisheries: the requirement to intensify inshore conservation and management drawing, where appropriate, on traditional fishing knowledge and management practice, and to institute measures to relocate fishing effort from inshore to offshore areas so that the resources of the EEZ are utilized more fully and more rationally.
Improved post-harvest fish management and marketing: with a view to facilitating better post-harvest handling to reduce losses, enhanced marketing of fish and fishery products (as a means of reducing dependence in imported fish and other animal protein) and fish exports, where appropriate, and possible.
Greater safety at sea for fishers: the need to provide technical and policy advice relating to appropriate systems and measures to be adopted so that fishers can operate safely in extended-range fisheries.
Strengthening the economic role of national fisheries industries and the privatisation of fisheries investments: by facilitating fisheries sector development through the enhancement of existing industries and the establishment of new industries, and the privatisation of public investments in the fisheries sector as a means of promoting more competitive industries that are capable of making greater contributions to national economic and social development; and
Aquaculture and inland fisheries conservation, management and development: through the introduction or strengthening of aquaculture and inland fisheries where feasible and appropriate and ensuring that culture practices, if introduced, are compatible with environments and their ecosystems.