Participatory Guarantee System (PGS) is a way forward to assist local organic farmers adapt to local markets and access trade with overseas markets.
Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Jimi Saelea made the comments in Tuesday’s PGS stakeholders’ workshop in Honiara.
Mr Saelea said PGS represents an alternative third party certification which enables direct participation of producers, consumers and other stakeholders providing an effective framework for greater grower collaboration and market linkages.
“Although demand for agricultural products increased over the last decade due to population growth, the use of chemicals to boost production has side effects that are toxic or poisonous to humans and to flora and fauna.
“Therefore the move towards organic systems is not only healthy but today specific markets have developed standards for production specific markets where standards for production have to be met,” he said.
He said although organic farming has been Solomon Islands way of farming practice in the past, it is also a practice that cares for the environment to ensure food security.
Mr Saelea said now that that method of farming has been revived over the years in the country, it has been seen as a means of earning sustainable income for farmers when traded under the principles of growing Fair Trade Movement.
“Although the country had exported a few products under the organic certification, the interest to add more products is growing and Solomon has the potential,” Saelea added.
He further stressed that now that Non-Communicable Diseases is becoming the number one killer in the country and the region, eating locally grown organic foods is the solution to this problem.
Mr Saelea warned the bad eating habit and lifestyle of people has been a serious issue that needs to change if this country is to develop and progress forward.
“It is therefore important to promote and engage more in organic farming.
Mr Saelea also stressed the importance of creating linkages, information sharing, building organic awareness activities in the country and look at ways to create organic movement across other stakeholders in the country.
He added that PGS is shaped by farmers and consumers and that needs improvement to what has already been done in the country.
“PGS is therefore one such food production system that will provide linkages not only to overseas markets but also the tourism sector where certain standards required has to be developed and established like food safety standards,” Saelaea said.
Meanwhile he thanked the facilitators Karen Mapusua and Steve Hazelman of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) and POETCom.
By DANIEL NAMOSUAIA