The Department of Industry (DOI) last week conducted a Vanuatu Agro Business and Manufacturing Council consultation meeting at the Grand Hotel.
In order to address the several issues due to trade imbalance in regards to the low supply-side of production for exports and increasing food security concerns relating to increase of non communicable diseases in Vanuatu largely from imported food products, an initiative from the private sector, supported by Government, in line with the objectives of the National Industrial Development Strategy (2018-2022) calls for a creation of a Vanuatu Agro-Business and Manufacturing Council.
The Council will help facilitate the implementation of the National Industrial Policy.
The meeting brought together few Ni-Vanuatu business owners and DOI partners engaged within the agriculture sector with an aim to help commercialize and mechanize primary production and encourage more local farmers to participate in agro-business and encourage value-added products.
According to Director of DOI, Mr Jimmy Rantes, the workshop was very positive.
The Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Internal Affairs, Ishmael Kalsakau, officially opened the workshop and in his opening remarks affirmed that the current government is committed also in addressing trades and export markets.
Mr Rantes said that over 80% of the population residing in rural areas, with majority participating in the agriculture sector with a lot are involved in subsistence farming.
However, there were gaps between agriculture and the industry.
The meeting looked at how the government can address such gaps. The rural sector has produced a lot of good organic products, however the challenge of accessing markets remains with one major issue, the standards issue.
Guest speakers embarked on the challenges faced in the past with discussions heated up as participants discussed relevant solutions in paving the way forward.
Mr Dion Palu, a certified expert based in Vanuatu, relayed how business owners and private sectors can meet specific market standards in domestic and international markets.
Mr Rantes said that the meeting has ensured for the DOI to address the bridge between the rural agricultural sector and trades.
He further confirmed that the government is setting up few mechanisms such as a platform for dialogue between the producers within the rural and the urban areas.
Whether you’re a member of the Primary Producers Authority or a commercial farmer, Mr Rantes stated that the mechanism is to ensure that they register local producers and farmers.
“Few resolutions were proposed as well during the meeting in allowing the government to set up mechanisms. For example, we have the National University policy which is in line with the NSDP plan of the government, with objectives of fully utilizing its resources, especially the untapped ones to diversify the economy.
“The government has committed in putting in place a policy to address the missing gaps between the primary product and the process of value added.
"The government’s policy is to ensure that all participate in the transformation process,” said Mr Rantes.
The meeting has endorsed for an implementation of the existing People’s Plan, in line with the Ministry of Trade’s policy framework.
Rantes mentioned that the government has already put in place mechanisms and with Vanuatu, one of the organic producers in the world, he said that it is high time to utilize local resources to achieve high standardized products both domestically and internationally as well.