A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) has been signed to strengthen the capacity of the Vanuatu Primary Producers Authority (VPPA) to facilitate sector and market development of agricultural products.

The 3-year agreement was signed between VPPA and the Pacific Horticultural and Agricultural Market Access (PHAMA) Plus, a program supported by the Australian Aid Program improving market access for Pacific agricultural products. VPPA and PHAMA Plus have been assisting growers and farmers to improve the quality of their products and accessing markets.

“The agreement will benefit Tahitian lime, sandalwood, kava and cacao farmers. It will strengthen market linkages, support improved access to value addition technology, and improved access to value addition technology, and improve product quality for cacao farmers,” VPPA stated.

“It will also support VPPA through capacity building, networking, and industry standards development.

“An exciting new advantage to the agreement will be a feasibility studies into the establishment of a chocolate making facility on Santo which will help local cacao farmers nationwide to be able to have a ‘closer-to-home’ market and help bolster the local chocolate-making industry.

“Additionally, it will help enhance and expand the capacity building and production of solar drier technology.

“The agreement is gender and age inclusive and has identified both male, female and youth farmers who will benefit from the activities. This was done through previous activities of VPPA, which has as one of its main tasks, the identification and registration of farmers throughout the country. This was an extensive exercise that began in 2020.”

The Authority said that while the nation understands the necessity and envisions greater productivity in agricultural trade, the costs of farming and limited mechanical assistance to help alleviate some of the physical burdens in this industry means that most individuals find export possibilities daunting and a relatively far-fetched idea or dream, let alone a vision.

“Without more assistance, most Ni-Vanuatu farmers will not be bale to be productive to the level of national expectations,” it stated.

“In light of such facts, government agencies, and development partners have been looking at ways of amalgamating their efforts to deal with these issues on an agricultural level.”

VPPA and PHAMA Plus have been assisting in policy development and now the roll-out activities that have been set as targets to reach the set goals and objectives that will in turn bring into reality the national visions in the productive sector.

VPPA said the two agencies look forward to the next three years of partnership to further enhance working relations and development, and contribute toa stable economy based on equitable, sustainable growth that creates jobs and income-earning opportunities accessible to people in rural and urban areas, an objective of The People’s Plan.