1. The purpose of the Technical Consultation of South Pacific Small Island Developing States on Sustainable Development in Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (hereafter referred to as the Consultation) is to define a framework for collaboration and joint action in agriculture, forestry and fisheries, as well as to identify appropriate mechanisms for support and implementation. The Consultation is one of the major steps taken by FAO and SPREP in relation to the Programme of Action on the Sustainable Development of Small Developing States of the UN Global Conference held in Barbados, 25 April-6 May 1994. It elaborates on certain areas by focusing on the specific needs of the Pacific Island Countries (PICs) and develops the agriculture, forestry and fisheries agenda by identifying actions, policies and measures and priority areas of assistance for the sustainability of this sector.
2. A critical policy consideration for all PICs is the need to balance self-sufficiency in basic food items against the promotion of export-led growth in agriculture, forestry and fisheries. Whereas PICs should take full advantage of export opportunities available to them in the interests of generating employment and national income, care should be exercised to ensure that policies focusing on export development are sustainable, long term and promote self-sufficiency in basic food production.
3. The high vulnerability of PICs to natural disasters and economic shocks should not be exacerbated by heavy dependency on food imports. Changing economic conditions and social needs within the South Pacific will face PICs with the challenge of securing their food needs, in an environment characterized by growing competition on the world market, increasing food prices, decreasing natural resources and a changing climate.
4. PICs should, therefore, strive to secure a high degree of self-reliance in food,
fibre and construction material, which implies, inter alia, effective natural
resource management to ensure long-term resource productivity.
5. Several organizations are actively involved in the promotion of sustainable agriculture, forestry and fisheries development. Considerable progress has been achieved in defining a Regional Programming Process (Regional Strategy prepared by the South Pacific Forum, 1995), and major sustainable development issues (for example, those expressed in the ACP document, 1995) as well as assessing the needs for improved living standards and quality of the environment (Report to the UN Commission on Sustainable Development on Activities to Implement the Barbados Programme of Action in the Pacific Region, 1996). Other efforts include developing regional and national Codes of Logging Practices (1995), the Kyoto Declaration and Plan of Action on Fisheries Contribution to Food Security (FAO, 1995), the UN Agreement on Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stock (1995), the FAO Code of Conduct on Responsible Fisheries (1995), and the FFA administered Palau Arrangement for Management of Western Pacific Purse Seine Fishery (1995). Areas deserving further attention for addressing the special challenges of the agriculture, forestry and fisheries sectors are indicated below. As regards important issues such as climate change, natural and environmental disasters, land resources, and others, reference is made to the UN Global Conference Programme of Action.
6. Nutrition and food security. Increased movement of goods has changed consumption patterns, increased dependence on cheap and poor quality imported food items and eroded traditional food production systems. Healthy diets and household food security need to be promoted by encouraging the development of improved techniques for the provision of quality food for domestic consumption.
7. Population. The total population in the Pacific (nearly 6.3 million people) will double in the next 30 years if the current growth rate 2.3 percent remains constant. Population growth increases demand for goods, services, and employment, and intensifies pressure on the weak natural resource base. The high mobility of people results in a continuous brain-drain from local agencies and organizations and decreases the ratio of active work force in rural areas. It does, however, contribute to financial flows such as remittances.
8. Women. Melanesian women bear the major responsibility for food production, and provide a significant amount of labour in commercial agriculture. In Polynesian and Micronesian countries, they are key contributors in both production and marketing of agricultural commodities. Their needs for increased access to productive resources, improved productivity and added value is increasingly obvious and should be addressed.
9. Economic performance and diversification of the economy. During the last
decade and especially the last few years, Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth was often
outpaced by population growth, and several countries showed almost no rise in average real
per caput incomes. For sustained growth and fair distribution of benefits, there is
need to diversify the economy and its actors. The public sector should carry out policy
reforms to increase efficiency of public administrations and services, whereas private
sector involvement in dynamic economic activities should be encouraged. It is highlighted
that firm commitment to sustainable development is an essential pre-requisite to any
action. The economy could also benefit from moving subsistence agriculture (representing
50-85 percent of agriculture) towards semi-intensive production systems targeted to
10. Public sector reforms. Although the role of the public sector will most likely be reduced, its future activities should concentrate on allocating the necessary resources to the sustainable development of agriculture, forestry and fisheries, which are the basis of PICs economy and food security. More specifically, public sector should focus on reviewing fiscal and monetary policies, strengthening quarantine facilities and services and enforcing phytosanitary requirements, improving infrastructure related to agro-processing and transportation, facilitating access to credit and saving facilities, stimulating the private sector, and coordinating approaches and interventions, both within and between ministries, to make the best use of human and financial resources, and provide coherent advice to farmers and fishers.
11. Strengthening the private sector. Strong private sector development would significantly improve competitiveness, especially of export-oriented agricultural commodities. Improved means and access to markets and marketing information, improved distribution systems, and incentives for the commercialization of small-scale production would stimulate the spirit of entrepreneurship.
12. Sustainable natural resource management. Sustainable management of natural resources, in agriculture, implies adopting a farming systems approach. In forestry and fisheries, it implies adopting an ecosystem approach towards harvesting practices, which must be environmentally sound and socially beneficial. Community-based management systems and related land and fishing rights in supporting food systems are of key importance and should be considered as an asset to build upon. For fishery resources outside jurisdiction of coastal states, early implementation of relevant, regional and international agreements are encouraged. Investments for alternative technologies and improved knowledge of natural systems (e.g. soil, water, nutrients, pests, biodiversity) imply a mobilization of resources and commitment, from policy makers, government officials, private sector and farmers/fishers. Namely, the role of the government in drawing-up legislation to protect indigenous ownership rights to plant and animal genetic resources from foreign misappropriation is of key importance as well as the enforcement of sustainable practices to protect soil, water and biodiversity. Natural resources are often inappropriately used due to divergent advice from several sources. A better coordination and harmonization of information and technology could substantially improve farming, harvesting, and regeneration practices. Improved access to productive resources, investments in management capacity, and ownership of problems and solutions are also key elements in sustainable natural resource use. National Environmental Management Strategies (NEMS) are being implemented by most Pacific island countries. Activities related to sustainable use of natural resources by the agriculture, forestry and fisheries sector should be implemented in harmony with NEMS principles.
13. Markets and marketing systems. A market-driven approach, based on local and foreign market opportunities should be identified before deciding on the type of production and processing activities to be developed and/or strengthened. Both producer and consumer preferences should be guided by information on prices (and medium-term trends), quality of products (packaging, nutritional content, labelling and phytosanitary requirements), and frequency/regularity of supply (namely for fresh produce or raw materials) required by a specific market. This would substantially redress the present failure to exploit local (e.g. tourism sector) and global niche-markets. Local investors and farmer cooperatives should be encouraged in creating their own marketing and processing channels and mechanisms. This could be facilitated by initial involvement of public sector. Partnerships between governments, the private sector, farmers/fishers and marketers also need to be built. A careful assessment of the benefits and costs to be derived from the World Trade Organization (WTO) principles, should be made before adopting the WTO mechanism.
14. Production, post-harvest handling and processing. Social, cultural, environmental and economic values should be considered when choices are made. Although the maintenance and upgrading of traditional food crops (such as aroids) should remain the first priority for national food security and health, alternatives should be explored for diversifying export crops for specific niche-markets. Access to planting material and germplasm inventory are needed to conserve and use indigenous biodiversity. Natural resource capacity, alternative systems of production and agricultural inputs, harvesting methods and/or practices, and preparedness for disasters (both natural and man-induced) are elements to evaluate before setting production targets and assessing expected financial and economic benefits. Post-harvest handling and agro-processing could be improved only if information is made available on appropriate technologies, including use of by-products and value-added techniques. The scale of production, locality, level of skills, and capital available will determine the quality and quantity of production. Production, post-harvest handling and marketing need to be considered as a whole.
15. Institutional strengthening and capacity-building. Public awareness, education and training are weak and training often insufficient for PICs to act upon their needs. Education and extension strategies are needed on population, health, nutrition and environmental issues. Approaches to research and extension should be based on prioritized needs, availability of facilities and resources, and most importantly, active involvement of farmers/fishers from conceptualization to planning and implementation. The activities and resources of Government, non-government, regional, donor, private and other agencies, need to be better coordinated to optimize their application and effectiveness.
16. Legislative measures. Streamline existing legislation and develop new laws in the fields of quarantine, environment, certification, disaster management and intellectual property rights where regulatory measures provide appropriate support for policy reforms and their implementation.
17. Involvement of natural resource owners. Ensure that traditional resource owners are fully involved in decisions concerning the use of these natural resources by non-traditional owners; promote clearer identification of traditional resource use/ownership regimes, and ensure that fair and just compensation is paid for access to, and use of, natural resources by non-traditional owners; facilitate the greater involvement of resource owners and users in policy decisions concerning the sustainable use of natural resources.
18. Integrated sectoral planning and coordination. Establish clear national priorities for agriculture, forestry and fisheries as a pre-requisite for the development and implementation of effective plans of action at all levels. This requires: formulating clear long-term objectives which reflect the aspirations of the people; formulating short-medium term national strategies (within clearly achievable objectives) for the realization of the long-term objectives; formulating integrated sectoral strategies or plans for agriculture, forestry and fisheries as a means of operationalizing the overall national strategy; strengthening of mechanisms for coordinating the implementation and monitoring of sector strategies and plans, and ensuring the maintenance of ecological functions and integrity in the above processes.
19. Public sector reforms and privatization. Investigate and facilitate public sector reforms with respect to agriculture, forestry and fisheries and encourage privatization where appropriate and necessary (e.g. marketing of agricultural produce).
20. Environment and gender issues. Ensure that environment and gender issues are considered fully in all aspects of development and management in agriculture, forestry and fisheries. Initiatives should be put into place to ensure that environment and gender considerations are mainstreamed into all planning activities within PICs.
21. Economic cooperation and trade. Encourage "smart partnerships" between the public and private sectors for trade promotion and development, including trade promotion overseas.
22. Public sector issues. Facilitate the development of human resources and institutional capacity so as to sustain the long-term independent development of PICs. This requires measures to empower people to be self-reliant; encourage greater individual and community awareness of national issues; enhance the ability of people to make inputs into the planning and execution of activities under national development programmes; encourage the realistic assessment of the extent to which traditional practices can be incorporated, improved and transmitted from one generation to the next. National action is required to: provide formal and non-formal training in issues and areas relating to individual, national and regional needs; strengthen vocational training, especially for young people in order to build up their technical and managerial skills; encourage continued education and training at all levels in the public sector; delineate roles, responsibilities and linkages within the government sector; establish appropriate and clear job descriptions of all persons employed in the public sector; strengthen professional development and research in the public sector, and continue strengthening the capacity of public administrators and management in the planning, execution and monitoring of all activities related to agriculture, forestry and fisheries.
23. Marketing issues. Increase the number of skilled personnel in areas such as quarantine, post-harvest handling, quality control, marketing and business management. This should involve: providing business training to facilitate the development of entrepreneurial skills and to build competence in marketing; developing opportunities to broaden the national export base; improving the use and access to marketing databases; supporting private sector development; and providing appropriate marketing infrastructure.
24. Environmental issues. Develop and enhance national expertise in environmental assessment for sustainable management of natural resources. Action is required to: provide training in all areas related to the environmental costs and benefits of agriculture, forestry and fisheries practices, as well as resource conservation and management and human ecology; encourage education and training in rehabilitation of natural resources; and undertake monitoring, evaluation and documentation of traditional natural resource management practices.
25. Gender issues. Considering the key role of women in conservation and management of natural resources and their fundamental contribution to agriculture, forestry and fisheries, gender considerations should be promoted within national administrations. This should include the provision of training on the role of women in development, conservation, nutrition, health, food preparation and consumer awareness. More broadly, administrations and women must be encouraged to continue education at all levels.
26. Production systems development and research. Encourage active partnerships between the public and private sectors in order to determine priorities in the production, processing and marketing commodity systems; facilitate the adoption of an integrated approach to land-use planning and development, and strengthen research and extension policies.
27. Information systems for effective decision making regarding natural resources and market opportunities. Improve the application and dissemination of information in support of effective decision making concerning the use and management of natural resources and market opportunities. Measures should include: identifying, assessing and integrating existing information systems; using appropriate information technology for the storing, processing, retrieval and dissemination of information; and evaluating, documenting and disseminating indigenous knowledge and practices.
28. Resilient and improved production and harvesting practices. Development of sustainable and improved production and harvesting practices involves promoting activities such as: valuing of non-timber forest products (e.g. medicinal plants, nuts and fruits) and functions (e.g. water quality and flow, soil conservation); developing and implementing a Code of Practice for the harvesting, conservation and use of natural resources; and providing appropriate training and extension services.
29. Animal and plant protection and quarantine services. Promote animal and plant protection and quarantine services through activities which include: assessing and strengthening of national legislation, facilities and services (including surveillance); improving and integrating national databases; and enhancing public awareness concerning the importance of quarantine services and the potential consequences of non-compliance to the rules.
30. Ecosystem and germplasm conservation and use. Enhance ecosystem and germplasm (including traditional cultivars) conservation and use (in order to strengthen production and biological systems) through inventories and assessments of natural resources, their evaluation and prioritization.
31. Infrastructure for production, processing and marketing. Enhance the economic viability of trade and business opportunities by: identifying priorities and needs; developing appropriate mechanisms to reduce and minimize costs; and establishing effective network activities related to production, harvesting, post-harvest handling, processing, transportation, merchandising and marketing.
32. Integrated planning processes. Adopt integrated planning processes across and within sectors to ensure that natural resources are utilized in a sustainable manner and that they make the maximum contribution to national, social and economic development. This requires: developing strategic and operational planning and management to ensure that targets are met, and involving appropriate government ministries as well as all other stakeholders.
33. Economic cooperation and trade. Facilitate the development of a regional strategy in response to international trade reforms, for future participation in the World Trade Organization (WTO) activities. This entails: focusing on research to identify clearly the comparative advantage of PICs in international markets for non-sugar crops; enhancing trade and access to transportation and foreign markets through improvement of the public information base and development of joint approaches to trade negotiations.
34. Legislative measures. Formulate regional operational guidelines for new and streamlined legislation in key areas including quarantine, environment, certification, disaster management and intellectual property rights; continue and strengthen regional cooperation for the establishment of appropriate standards for food exports and imports.
35. Natural resource owners. Disseminate information concerning national experiences in natural resource negotiations between natural resource owners and non-traditional resource owners. This requires: registering of pertinent details of these negotiations by the appropriate regional agencies; enhancing regional dissemination of national case studies on experiences with community based approaches to natural resource policy development and management; facilitating the implementation of regional agreements for offshore fisheries resources.
36. Integrated sectoral planning and coordination. Facilitate integrated sectoral planning and coordination through organization of appropriate regional meetings (e.g. annual meetings of the Finance Ministers and the annual meeting of Forum Leaders) to assist regional agencies in providing appropriate technical assistance to PICs for the formulation and implementation of such planning and coordination.
37. Public sector issues. Assist national administrations to review procedures concerning human resource development needs and to assess and identify infrastructural requirements for training and capacity-building at both the national and regional levels.
38. Marketing issues. Support is required by the Forum Secretariat, the South
Pacific Commission, the Forum Fisheries Agency and the University of the South Pacific in
a number of areas including: training, the acquisition of market intelligence, assessment
of national needs, dissemination of market information and research for means of improving
exports to ensure that international standards are met.
39. Environmental issues. Assist PICs in the development of training programmes in conservation and use of natural resources in agriculture, forestry and fisheries. This would require technical assistance of the South Pacific Regional Environment Programme, the South Pacific Commission, the Forum Fisheries Agency and the University of the South Pacific for training in key areas such as resource rehabilitation, resource assessments and monitoring of rates of natural resource utilization.
40. Gender issues. Provide technical assistance through the South Pacific Commission and other regional agencies as appropriate, to recognize and strengthen the essential roles by women in natural resource conservation, and use in PICs.
41. Production systems development and research. Facilitate the establishment of partnerships between the public and private sectors in relevant countries. The Forum Secretariat should lead this initiative with assistance from other relevant regional agencies, and also provide assistance for the strengthening of national research and extension requirements.
42. Information systems for effective decision making regarding natural resources and market opportunities. Facilitate the establishment, coordination and integration of regional and national information systems for effective decision making regarding natural resources and market opportunities. The South Pacific Commission, the Forum Fisheries Agency and the University of the South Pacific should lead this initiative.
43. Resilient and improved production and harvesting practices. Support national initiatives with respect to the development of sustainable practices for resilient and improved production and harvesting practices. The facilitation of regional cooperation is an essential component.
44. Animal and plant protection and quarantine services. Provide technical assistance, primarily through on-going South Pacific Commission and the University of the South Pacific activities in the areas of enhancement of legislation, surveillance, training, database development and the integration of animal and plant protection services and quarantine.
45. Ecosystem and germplasm conservation and use. Ensure effective coordination between the South Pacific Commission, the South Pacific Regional Environment Programme, the University of the South Pacific and other relevant programmes or initiatives on measures to enhance and strengthen ecosystem and germplasm conservation and use.
46. Infrastructure for production, processing and marketing. Develop technical assistance programmes, primarily with the help of the South Pacific Commission, the South Pacific Forum and the Forum Fisheries Agency, on appropriate infrastructure for production, processing and marketing of agriculture, forestry and fishery products in order to enhance economic viability of trade and business opportunities.
47. Natural Resources. Provide appropriate technical support to enable PICs to implement international agreements for offshore fisheries.
48. Economic cooperation and trade. Promote advisory services to evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of, and regional mechanisms for, membership in the World Trade Organization and the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation.
49. Public sector issues. Provide appropriate technical assistance to review human resource needs and to give advice on ways and means of strengthening national capacity.
50. Marketing issues. Provide FAO support for training activities, the acquisition of market intelligence, the assessment of national needs, the dissemination of international market information and advice concerning quarantine to ensure that international standards for exports from the region are met.
51. Environmental issues. Assist in the provision of technical assistance in relevant areas of natural resource conservation and environmental management.
52. Gender issues. Strengthen the role of women in development through technical
assistance and training by international organizations.
53. Production systems development and research. FAO, in consultation with appropriate regional agencies and non-governmental organizations should assist as required in the further development and research of appropriate production systems, including research and extension requirements.
54. Information systems for effective decision making regarding natural resources and market opportunities. Technical assistance in support of information systems for effective decision making regarding natural resources and market opportunities should be provided by FAO and other appropriate agencies.
55. Resilient and improved production and harvesting practices. FAO, UNDP and
other international agencies should support national and regional initiatives concerning
resilient and improved production and harvesting practices.
56. Animal and plant protection and quarantine services. Importing countries should be encouraged to provide assistance to PICs in upgrading facilities and strengthening animal and plant protection and quarantine services to ensure that international standards are met.
57. Ecosystem and germplasm conservation and use. FAO, UNDP and other international agencies should support regional initiatives to enhance and strengthen ecosystem and germplasm conservation and use.
58. Infrastructure for production, processing and marketing. FAO, UNDP and other international agencies should assist in the development of appropriate infrastructure for production, processing and marketing of agriculture, forestry and fishery products as a means of enhancing economic viability of trade and business opportunities. Support should also be given to the development, continuation or strengthening of mechanisms which enhance the coordination of national and regional activities and resources for the sustainable management of agriculture, forestry and fisheries resources.
59. Legislative measures. Strengthen existing laws and develop new ones, where necessary, in key areas such as quarantine, environment, certification, disaster management and intellectual property rights in order to support policy reforms in sustainable agriculture, forestry and fisheries. This would require: developing the technical systems by donors to assist PICs in implementing the above legislative requirements; formulating regional operational guidelines; identifying appropriate regional standards for agricultural, forestry and fisheries exports and imports; strengthening and continuing the activities of the Food Testing Programme of the Institute of Applied Sciences in Fiji.
60. Natural resources. PICs have a wealth of experience in traditional resource management practice. FAO, UNESCO, the South Pacific Commission, the South Pacific Regional Environment Programme, and the University of the South Pacific should be encouraged to strengthen activities relating to traditional practice in agriculture, forestry, coastal fisheries and sustainable natural resource management, and facilitate national case studies for dissemination to PICs.
61. Integrated sectoral planning and coordination. Formulate integrated sectoral strategies and plans in agriculture, forestry and fisheries where there is a clear development strategy and improve mechanisms for regional coordination.
62. Economic cooperation and trade. Initiate action, through on-going work of the South Pacific Forum and the South Pacific Commission, to determine the regional benefits from greater participation in regional and international agencies and mechanisms such as WTO, the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Council (APEC). This would require: establishing appropriate regional and strategic responses to the Uruguay Round Agreement with respect to agriculture, forestry and fisheries, and particularly with regard to the potential loss of preferential arrangements and the cost of food imports; providing technical assistance, through appropriate regional research organizations, to assess regional comparative advantage in non-sugar crops and products, and identify policy adjustments to align private incentives with these comparative advantages; commissioning of a study to determine market information currently available (e.g. trade directories) in order to prioritize additional information and ensure that this information is effectively disseminated to PICs; and defining specific activities for trade-enhancing cooperation between public agencies and the private sector.
63. Public sector issues. Sustain the long-term development of PICs and ensure that their natural resources are utilized sustainably through the development of individual, national and regional capacity and the provision of scholarships under bilateral and multilateral programmes for research at regional and international institutions.
64. Marketing issues. Develop human capacity in all areas of marketing, post-harvest handling, processing, quarantine, quality control and business management on the basis of technical assistance from bilateral, regional and multilateral sources.
65. Environmental issues. Provide technical assistance for developing human resources and strengthening national capacities in all areas related to natural resource and environment management, including resource assessment and the rehabilitation of natural resources.
66. Gender issues. Encourage initiatives to empower women to contribute fully and effectively to the overall development of natural resources, both at the national and regional levels.
67. Production systems development and research. Promote regular national and regional consultations on development and research of production systems. At the national level, an agency should be set up to develop national land-use plans and strategies and all stakeholders should be included as members of the agency.
68. Information systems for effective decision making regarding natural resources and market opportunities. Improve decision making, structures and training on natural resources and market opportunities. The information/communication capacity currently provided through the Pacific Sustainable Development Networking Programme (PSDNP) should be supported beyond 1996.
69. Resilient and improved production and harvesting practices. Assist in the valuation of non-market products and functions of forests and provide support for appropriate training and extension at the national level.
70. Animal and plant protection and quarantine services. Provide technical assistance to assess and revise national legislation where needed, implement appropriate training and enhance database development.
71. Ecosystem and germplasm conservation and use. Support the establishment of national inventories and assessment of resource bases for ecosystem and germplasm conservation and use, and enhance regional cooperation in this field.
72. Infrastructure for production, processing and marketing. Provide technical assistance to assess and prioritize needs for appropriate infrastructure related to production, processing and marketing of agriculture, forestry and fishery products; encourage and assist the private sector in assessing ways and means to reduce costs and strengthening networks of activities ranging from production to harvesting, post-harvest handling, transportation, merchandising and marketing; and ensure the continuation of a regional coordinating mechanism for the forestry sector, currently provided by the South Pacific Forestry Development Programme, beyond 1996.
73. Integrated planning processes. Facilitate the adoption and implementation of appropriate integrated planning processes for natural resources as a means of ensuring sustainable use.