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Cook Islands, FAO strengthens ties on food security

Wednesday 10 July 2024 | Written by Supplied | Published in Local, National, Technology

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Cook Islands, FAO strengthens ties on food security
Food and Agriculture Organization sub-regional coordinator for the Pacific Islands, Xiangjun Yao, with Tingika Elikana, Cook Islands Minister of Foreign Affairs and Immigration. MFAI/24070904

Cook Islands and the Food and Agriculture Organization discussed strengthening collaboration on sustainable agriculture and food security during its sub-regional coordinator’s visit.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration (MFAI) welcomed Xiangjun Yao, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) sub-regional coordinator for the Pacific Islands, during her inaugural visit to the Cook Islands this week.

Appointed by the FAO director-general in 2020, Yao has been serving as the FAO representative to several Pacific Island countries.

In a statement, MFAI said this visit, delayed by the Covid-19 pandemic, marked an important step in strengthening ties and fostering collaboration between the Cook Islands and the FAO.

Yao highlighted the critical role of agri-food systems in the region, emphasising their importance in accessing larger markets, fulfilling domestic needs, and exploring niche markets. 

Tingika Elikana, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Immigration, emphasised the importance of food security within the FAO framework.

Elikana pointed out the challenges posed by the Cook Islands’ geographic isolation, transportation costs, and limited land space for mass production and export.

“We need to link our efforts to our Pa Enua, our ‘food bowl’ source for domestic markets and beyond,” he said.

Minister Elikana also highlighted the importance of sustainable agricultural efforts with a focus on long-term goals and returns.

“Enhancing agricultural production capacity to meet the demands of Rarotonga is crucial,” he noted.

He stressed that agriculture is a national security issue dependent on natural resources and climate, calling for investment in agriculture to boost productivity and ensure food security.

“Investments that yield long-term benefits for our agricultural sector and economy are essential,” Elikana concluded.

This visit also marks a significant step in reinforcing collaboration between the FAO and the Cook Islands, with a shared vision of sustainable agricultural development and enhanced food security for the nation. 

The Food and Agriculture Organization is one of the first United Nations specialised agencies the Cook Islands joined, becoming a member in 1985. 

FAO support to the Cook Islands is delivered at national level through the leadership of the Ministry of Agriculture and for some programmes, is partnered with regional organisations including the Pacific Community (SPC) and the South Pacific Regional Environmental Program (SPREP).

  • MFAI

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