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Fiji has welcomed moves by the International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD) to strengthen its focus on Fiji and the South Pacific region.
This was conveyed to Fiji’s Minister for Agriculture, Dr Mahendra Reddy at a meeting held today with IFAD Vice President Cornelia Richter at the IFAD headquarters in Rome, Italy.
Established in 1977 as an international financial institution, IFAD today plays a crucial role in the inclusive and transformation of rural areas through the agriculture sector. It’s work globally is achieved primarily by increasing the capacity of poor rural people, increasing their benefits of market participation and strengthening environmental sustainability and climate resilience of their economic activities.
During their meeting, it was highlighted that the South Pacific region, as a region severely impacted by the effects of climate change, will look to larger partners to provide support to mitigate these effects especially in the agriculture and food security sector.
“Madam Vice President, on behalf of the Government and people of Fiji, I thank you for receiving my delegation to Rome and to IFAD. Fiji, as longstanding member of IFAD is appreciative of the work that you do not just in my country, but in the region as well”, Minister Reddy said.
“As you know, the food security and agriculture sector in Fiji and in like other Small Islands Developing States are severely impacted by the effects of climate change. We look forward to continue working with IFAD to address these challenges and to map out a way forward”.
The Minister also welcomed the decision by IFAD to put together a regional strategy on the Pacific as part of its own efforts to strengthen its focus in the region. He added that this augurs well for SIDS in the Pacific region given the complex and unique set of challenges faced there.
Minister Reddy also highlighted some of the challenges faced by Fiji and in particular, relevant Ministries and agencies in the implementation phase of IFAD projects. His proposals that these projects be more pragmatic and streamlined to adapt to Fiji’s needs were welcomed by the IFAD Vice President who referred to these proposals as a “good indication of the level of friendship and trust between Fiji and IFAD.
In her remarks, Vice President Richter congratulated the Minister and the Government for the work carried out to address food security and commended him for Fiji’s own commitment to the values and objectives of IFAD.
Meanwhile, Fiji has welcomed a proposal by the World Food Programme to initiate a series of capacity building programmes for young Fijians to learn how WFP responds to the needs of vulnerable communities and those affected during times of natural disasters.
This proposal was recommended to the Minister for Agriculture Dr Mahendra Reddy at a meeting today with the WFP Head of Logistics Pierre Honnorat. The meeting which was held on the margins of the Executive Board meeting was an opportunity for the Minister to look at how the WFP responds to communities and countries in need of support following natural disasters or natural catastrophes.
In presenting the logistics operation of food and emergency supply materials, Honnorat proposed that it would be, to both party’s advantage, that Fiji look at deploying relevant officials to undertake training programs including internships with the WFP. He said that this would also provide the necessary expertise from Fiji to the WFP as the logistics team currently does not have anyone from the South Pacific. He proposed that this capacity be extended to exchange programs.
In response, Minister Reddy said that Fiji welcomed the support of the WFP in addressing malnutrition and hunger in the country. Through their office in Suva, the Minister said that Fiji is keen to see young Fijians be exposed to international best practices in responding to future natural disasters.
“As a result of the growing impacts of climate change, Fiji will continue to face new and dynamic challenges when it comes to food security. This is why it’s important that our partners, like the WFP, should be engaged to look at how we can avoid a shortage of food supplies during natural disasters”, Minister Reddy said.
“We are keen to learn from the expertise of the WFP and how they are dealing with food hunger and malnutrition from around the world and apply those learning experiences in Fiji”.
The Minister also met with several key senior personnel in the WFP to identify how both parties can work more closely with each other.
Later in the week, the Minister is expected to deliver remarks at a high-level event alongside other Pacific leader..
SOURCE: FIJI GOVT/PACNEWS
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