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Apia, SAMOA – October 1, 2019: 2.10pm (Nuku’alofa Times): Include farmers and know their needs.

These are important if agriculture plans drawn up to help the sector in the region is to be successful, Samoan Cabinet Minister Lopaoo Mua told a regional meeting in Apia this morning.

Speaking at the opening session of the 6th Regional Meeting of Heads of Agriculture and Forestry Services (HOAFS) at the TATTE Conference Centre, Hon Mua said this would help strengthen and deepen partnerships for sustainable development in our Pacific Region.

“Therefore (I) urge you to have the implementers and farmers in mind when you are discussing the main objectives or expected favourable results and outcomes, that must be written and telling a simple story of your plan of actions for implementation by them, and producing favourable outcomes over the next two years,” Hon Mua, Samoa’s Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, said.

“Please ensure that the stakeholders know what those are and also reveal the development framework that will effectively guide the active agents and implementers with real goals that can be monitored and evaluated to register achievable results and returns on government and development partner investments.

“It is important that the stakeholders and active agents in the field understand the science of how all these, can achieve the favourable results from planning, planting, protecting until effective harvesting and delivery completes the production and consumption cycle.”

Hon Mua said it is important that planning also take into place the UN Sustainable Development Goals that are relevant to Agriculture and Forestry.

He urged the heads of agriculture and forestry departments to ensure the establishment of institutional and knowledge management platforms that support a people-centred and rights-based approach, for efficient production and consumption level, of safe and nutritious domestic agricultural and forest products.

He said such platforms should ensure to use sustainable and climate-smart land management practices that promote increased trade of diverse, safe and healthy agricultural products which contribute to our food security and sustainable livelihoods of Pacific communities.

“Please keep us farmers in mind during your deliberations and map out a simple plan and an implementer’s manual for us,” he said.

Tonga’s Director of Agriculture Dr Viliami Kami at the opening session of the meeting this morning. Photo: CEDRIC PATJOLE

Hon Mua said it is now time to identify realistic solutions that will help the region achieve real progress.

“We can discuss and talk about our challenges until the cows come home and that whilst they are the reasons that we are here today,” he said.

“I pray that the challenges will be quickly highlighted, and that it would be most wonderful if 75% of your time will be spent on identifying and proposing realistic solutions to achieve real progress in our region through the sharing of best practices that are known in each country,” he added.

The meeting has brought together Heads of Agriculture and Forestry Services from the region.

Tonga is being represented by Director of Agriculture, Food and Forestry, Dr Viliami Kami.

At the same time the week includes the 2nd Pacific Agriculture Week.

Side events are being held at the Sheraton’s Aggie Grey’s Hotel, the TATTE convention centre and the POGI grounds.

Meanwhile, Ministers of Agriculture and Forestry will meet here on Friday, closing of the week-long program.

Note: Iliesa Tora is a participant at the ACIAR and ABC International Development  ‘Celebrating Agriculture in the News’ Masterclass, supported by Australian AID.

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