The Ministry of Agriculture has a new Directorate to house the Offices of the Director of Livestock, Director of Forests, Director of Fisheries and Director of Biosecurity in a once ‘write-off’ one storey Government building opposite Port Vila Child Care Centre.
The historical former Department of Forests one-storey building has been renovated by the staff of the Ministry to also include the Office of the Food and Agriculture Organisation in Vanuatu, a Risk Resilience Unit, a Project Management Unit and an ICT Unit.
DG Aru said, “The former Government was committed to the EDF 11 and it is coming with an allocation of 25 plus million Euros to support the productive sector involving coconut value chain, beef, fruit and vegetable – all of which we are already working on. So it is only proper to have such an office to manage these major projects.
“This is to make sure we do not repeat the past where over 100 million Euros came and 100% of it went back due to lack of capacity. This office will make sure the sad story is not repeated.
“ICT has to do with internet, communication where one touch of the button and a farmer in the middle bush of Santo, Tanna or Malekula receives the same information from here in the Directorate. The Ministry does not have the money to send officers out so we turn to ICT for help”.
The former Minister of Agriculture, Livestock, Forests, Fisheries and Biosecurity, MP David Tosul introduced the project over one year ago with a long term vision to achieve faster and better coordination of development projects in each Department in line with the country’s new Agriculture Policy for the next 15 years.
In fact the Policy was launched jointly by the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Trade, Moana Carcasses and MP Tosul, at Tagabe Agriculture Station immediately following the launching of the Directorate last Friday.
While the Minister responsible, Christophe Emelee, could not attend to launch the “milestone” initiative, the DG clipped the ribbon in the morning on his behalf in a brief ceremony in perfect sunshine, witnessed by the former Minister of ALFFB, and former Minister of Lands, MP Ralph Regenvanu, along with the Chairman of the Public Service Commission, Kanam Wilson, First PA in the Ministry Roy Matariki and all the Heads of the Departments housed in the Directorate and their staff.
The DG specifically thanked MPs Tosul and Regenvanu for the political will to see the project become a reality. “This building is the first of its kind in Government today to house all the Ministry’s Departments in one building, nowhere else in Port Vila or even in the country”, the DG said.
“As an agriculturalist himself, the former Minister dared to push the initiative out of frustration as he wanted to bring the Directors closer to him. This resulted in his calling of the first national retreat at Pele last year and finally its fruition – this Directorate”.
Even at this early stage, the DG said Directors are already beginning to see and feel the relevance of having such an office in their midst.
The DG also launched the ICT Unit in the building. It was here that the First PA of the Ministry, Roy Matariki thanked the former Minister and the DG and his staff for the completion of the project.
He said the Directorate is liken to a new seed that is going to grow to support agriculture which is the backbone of the economy.