Agriculture has historically been a bedrock of cultural and economic activities in SIDS and today continues to play a significant role in sustaining livelihoods. Many SIDS rely heavily on agricultural products for export earnings and in many cases these products are limited to a handful of important crops such as: sugar cane, various root crops, vanilla, cocoa, bananas and coconuts.
However, there is great concern over the decline in agricultural production in many SIDS since the 1990s. Many have gone from net exporters to net importers of agricultural products. The erosion of trade preferences for SIDS agricultural products over the years also presents a major impediment to food security, rural development and employment.
Issues of food security and agriculture continue to be major challenges for SIDS. Of particular concern is the over-reliance on and quality of imported food, often to the detriment of the nutrition of local communities and national agricultural systems. A key obstacle to the development of the agricultural sector in SIDS is the lack of investment. A greater number of innovative partnerships are needed, which would facilitate enhanced access for local farmers to international markets and of equal importance is the transfer of knowledge and entrepreneurial skills, which would greatly improve the capacity of local businesses to develop and trade high-end value added products in order to target regional and international niche markets.
Given the relatively modest scale of agricultural production in many small islands, joint business ventures should be cognisant of the need to build resilience into partnerships to address vulnerabilities and reduce exposure to external shocks. By linking agriculture to recreation and tourism, the private sector has the ability to attract the active engagement of women and youth in the agricultural sector. With the international growth in organic agricultural products, private sector entities will be in a prime position to reinvigorate agricultural production in SIDS and contribute to the livelihoods of rural communities.
Featured Partnership from the 2014 Private Sector Partnerships Forum
The Technical Centre for Agriculture and Rural Cooperation (CTA) announced three new partnerships to raise the profile of agriculture and develop stronger agribusiness in the Pacific. Click here to learn more.
Samoa’s Women in Business Inc. showcased its Farm to Table Initiative with new training programs for youth, focused on employment opportunities through organic agriculture. Trainees will learn important skills in transforming their gardens and plantations into business opportunities. It is envisaged that the initiative will be expanded across the Pacific region. Click here to learn more.
Featured Partnership from the 2014 Third International Conference on SIDS
Developing Agriculture Communities
The partnership aims to achieve strong, sustainable economic growth through direct market links between producers and buyers of fresh vegetables. Kmanek Supermarket agrees to purchase farmers produce at an acceptable level of quality. The USAID project trains farmers to grow higher quality vegetables with greater productivity per hectare. Funding from ConocoPhillips enables the project to work with more farmers in more communities than the USAID funding would allow. Click here to learn more.
- Government of Timor-Leste, Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries
- Kmanek Supermarket
Grenada Sustainable Farmers’ Night Market Network
The Partnership brings together a rural based leadership for sustainable development, to better coordinate, scale up and demonstrate community-based national initiatives for long-term sustainability. The Network set out to raise greater awareness around process and products that are sustainable thus creating new opportunities, including jobs and wealth creation, especially for small/micro businesses in the community. Click here to learn more.
- St. Andrew\’s Progressive Farmer Association (NGO)
- Germaine\’s Plant Sanctuary (small business)
- Grenada Rural Women Producers (NGO)
- Neanganfioux Organic Farm (small business)
- The Goat Dairy (NGO)
- Belmont Estate (private sector)
- Grenada Education and Development Organization, GRENED (NGO)
- St. Patrick’s Environmental Community Tourism Organization, SPECTO (NGO)
- The Grenada Chocolate Factory (small business)
- The Zero Hunger Project (Government)
- The Ministry of Agriculture / Environment (Government)
Organic Islands; Growing Our Future
The partnership is inspired, driven and owned by the organic movement of the Pacific region and seeks the support of development partners and other synergistic organisations to realise the full potential of the partnership. To date, 30 member organisations in 13 Pacific Island Countries including governments, private sector, organic farmers organisations, NGOs and research organisations are involved. Click here to learn more.
Featured Photo Credit: Martine Perret/UN Photo