Monthly Newsletter

RIDGE TO REEF PRAISED FOR STRENGTHENING PA ENUA BIOSECURITY AIMED TO PROTECT ISLAND ENVIRONMENT

APPRECIATION AND APPLAUSE from the community participants of the Island of Mauke was revealed as the Ministry of Agriculture team presented to the Mayor of Mauke the Ridge to Reef funded Biosecurity equipments.  The Director of Policy confirmed that the equipments was purchased to help with operational matters that can better equip Agriculture Department staff inspection work on ported vessels and aircrafts received by the Island on the weekly basis.  It was an area the Island Government Council for all Islands of the Southern Group stood their ground against any form of outbreak in most particular plant vine species that could reverse the current pristine of the Makatea natural forest and its biodiversity.  Already, the Islands of Mangaia, Mauke and Mitiaro are looking into reviewing the current bylaws around improving the protection of the Makatea forest.  Other areas includes the impacts of wandering animals on conservation, biodiversity protect lands including the livelihoods of households who depends on agriculture lands for food security and income.  The Ministry has taken on these concerns as part of the 2018/2019 development program for the Pa Enua, and while the central agencies are preparing budgets for the new fiscal year, the Ministry departments are jointly working in partnership with the respective Island agriculture departments.  The aim of the joint effort is to tie-in support program in tandem between the Ministry and the Island agriculture department program plan for 2018/2019 under the newly agreed MoU to better strengthen Biosecurity protection for each Island.

A program is now scheduled for 2018 that will involve the Biosecurity department and the Crop Research plant protection unit to upgrade the agriculture staff on plant identification, biosecurity standard operation procedures for clearing vessels for all Islands.  In this respect the Ministry and the Pa Enua is so thankful for the Ridge to Reef program partner who has taken a strong stance to help better coordinate these efforts with the intention to ensure that this assistance will be sustaining Island preparedness against future invasion of any form of outbreak whether it be agriculture pest or disease for crop or livestock, or the invasive plant species and many others.  The Ministry team explained to the Mauke participants that the Ridge to Reef program has extended their involvement for the 2018 program to better prepare the Island in the months ahead.  And therefore, everyone support on this program would be needed. The Mayor and the Island Council shared their full support in the assistance shown by the Ridge to Reef program in its entire assistance for the island of Mauke for 2018.  The Mayor have nailed it, explained the Director of Policy, as the Mayor said, “The responsibility lies with us, every person on the Island must be involved in the protection of our environment and it is everyone business, and so let’s play our part” said the Mayor.  These equipments are now placed with the Agriculture Department and shall be used often at ports of entry for inspection purposes on every vessel arriving on to the Island.

MAUKE AGRICULTURE ASSOCIATIONS TACKLES GOVERNANCE ISSUES TO STRENGTHEN COLLABORATION AND EMPOWERMENT OF FARMERS FOR SUSTAINABLE FOOD SECURITY & NUTRITION RESILIENCE.

 

A FULL ON awareness, planning and drafting of constitutions training was enjoyed by Mauke Island participants who attended the Strengthening the Resilience of Island Community on Climate Change Program (SRICC) funded workshop from the 4th to the 8th of December 2017.  The workshop was a special request by the Island Community through the Ministry of Agriculture to help strengthen the collaboration amongst associations and help growers understand their membership rights and obligation as a financial member, and how benefits can be accessed as a member of the association.  The workshop is one of the first employed programs to the Pa Enua through the agreed and signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) by the Island Government Council of Mauke in November 2017.  In previous years, the Agriculture programs in the Pa Enua are committed under the Island Administration management and budgets as a result of the devolution in 1996 that saw the relationship of the Pa Enua agriculture departments detached from the Central Agency of the Ministry of Agriculture.  Since then, to some extent, the program can only be supported by the Ministry through special request from the Island Government Council, not until 2017, when the MoU was signed, bringing back the common partnership it had before the devolution.  This workshop was prepared and opened to any association groups on the island from agriculture, fisheries, beautification contractors and the council members.  A total of thirty six (36) participants attended the workshop and despite the arrival of the shipping barge and the Tapi Taio shipping to the Island soon after, the program continued on and had little ill-effect to the number of participants who attended and trusted that it was far more important to make sure good and transparent governance are properly feed into the constitution clauses and established under the respective association constitutional framework.  It was quite an interesting training concept Mauke wanted to engage on and never before a workshop program of this magnitude has ever been conducted by involving more than one (1) growers association that included the fisheries association said the Director of Policy.  The team of three personnel from the Ministry attend to four areas of work that involved the strengthening of the Island of Mauke agriculture program for (i) building the awareness of the constitutional governance while members needed to understand their constitutional rights, obligations, the processes of election and many other areas (ii) assist in the agriculture department business plan for budgetary purposes, (iii) Alignment of the agriculture department staff job description, (iv) production of the drafted growers and fisheries association Constitution, and the (v) drafting of the Governing Board Terms of Reference.  The Director explained that all five areas (5) are Pa Enua related institutional strengthening component that was necessary for the first year one (1) and two (2) of the National Agriculture Sector Strategy 2020.  And therefore it was no accident that the program was requested by the Mauke growers associations and the Island Council that saw in strengthening agriculture institutional levels for Mauke first, and will soon followed on to Atiu, Mangaia, Aitutaki and Mitiaro soon for 2018.  The Ministry is intending to facilitate the first General Assembly (GA) for the Kimiangatau Growers Association on the 4th of February 2018 and will help supervise the election process to be carried out in accordance to the endorsed constitution while observed by the remaining associations to follow through in familiarizing themselves with the proper election procedures.  It is expected that the first growers association GA should share light and lessons learnt on the proper way of conducting the GA and so that the remaining associations can carry out on their own, their respective GA on the same standard.  The Director explained that the end process of conducting the General Assembly is important to the credibility of the endorsed association and shall met all standards so that the members are able to trust with respect the procedures enshrined under their respective constitutions.  At the closing ceremony, many participants respectively gave their appreciation for allowing this workshop take place and have finally completed a draft of the associations’ constitution that has taken many years to get one done. The Mayor reiterated the purpose of the workshop was to forge collaboration amongst the associations not to compete but to compliment resources as they achieve one goal as often discussed in the workshop.  The Mayor gave his appreciation on behalf of the people of Mauke for SRICC assistance to make this workshop an important one in helping the famers of the Island food security nutrition and resilience five year program.

PA ENUA ENGAGES A MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING (MOU) WITH THE MINISTRY OF AGRICULTURE FOR THE NEXT THREE (3) YEARS.

THE PA ENUA Agriculture Resilience and Livelihood (PEARL) program for Food Security & Nutrition engaged a MoU to begin the planning of programs and projects necessary to help increase food security.  With the kind assistance of the Strengthening the Resilience of Island Community on Climate Change (SRICC) program, the Policy Department team of the Ministry of Agriculture visited Islands of the Southern Group with the aim to (i) initiate and engage respective Island authorities in agriculture food security program for the next three (3) years.  The aims followed on in building (ii) collaboration partnership under the MoU, and to (iii) streamline Island strategies and business plans under the National Agriculture Sector Plan 2020 for (iv) program and project financing, resourcing and technical support.  The visit expected outcome was to seek the approval of the Island Government Councils of the respective Island and Communities on the conditions of the MoU.  The MoU supports the needs and interest in engaging the Ministry on Island programs and projects for agriculture.  On the same visit the team was to receive from the Community farmers’ new programs and projects that are in line with the Island strategy and priority lists and so in return, the team was to present back to the Council the Community and farmers program and project outcomes for approval.  It was satisfying to the team that the respective Island Government Councils successfully endorsed the MoU without hesitation considering that the main focus of the MoU was for both parties to work in close partnership to achieve Island strategic goals intended for the next 3 years said the Director of Policy.  As a result of the visits, the Ministry team have achieved to sign off five (5) MoU documents, compiled a total of thirty eight (38) programs covering ten (10) areas where most involves capacity building and training, and support services in nursery management, engagement of feasibility studies, crop bank for disaster preparedness, coconut replanting program, governance and livestock breeding.  A total of 20 specific projects compiled and are currently under funding preparation with donor partners for support.  In addition, Mauke, Atiu and Mangaia Business Plan alignment and job descriptions are currently assessed and getting it ready for budgetary submission by the 20th January 2018.  The first program so far implemented under this MoU has been completed on the Island of Mauke aimed towards enhancing governance matters within the growers associations completed on the 8th of December 2017.  More of this work is also scheduled for 2018 that will be deployed by the various departments and stakeholders support agencies.  The Business Trade and Investment Board (BTIB) team, National Environment Services (NES) and Infrastructure Cook Islands (ICI) water Division and Ministry of Health (MoH)  with the Ministry will follow through the implementation plan for year one (1) and (2) on capacity strengthening before year three (3) project engagement.  In that respect the entirety of year 1 and 2 focuses on “Advisory, institution and coordination strengthening” which has been identified to hold the largest strategic activity share of thirty five percent (35%) total.  It also confirms that the priority area has to be completed by the end of year 2.  The Director of Policy confirms that “Since early November the Ministry has been working hard with the departments to re-align their business plan around the Pa Enua program. And also the Ministry has been working with donor partners to re-affirm funding to support the approved programs and projects by the Island Government Councils.

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