Celebrating World Food Day – Grow, Nourish, Sustain. Together. Our Actions are our Future.
Organised and hosted by the Ministry of Agriculture, the Cook Islands celebrated World Food Day (WFD) today at Constitution Park in Avarua. Constitution Park was a hive of activity with an array of displays, presentations and demonstrations by various agencies on the topic of food as well as a great selection of fresh vegetables, fruits, other produce, cooked food and plants and trees on sale by multiple vendors.
WFD is led by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), with headquarters in Rome. This year’s theme for WFD is ‘Grow, Nourish, Sustain. Together. Our Actions are our future’ – in Maori ‘E tanu, kia pa’ia e kia vai ‘uātu rai. Ko tatou katoa I te rave’anga nō te tuātau ki mua’.
2020 marks the 40th year anniversary of WFD and the 75th anniversary of the FAO. Te Kauono Tutara e te Mana Tiaki – the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration facilitate access on behalf of the Cook Islands to a wide range of food and agriculture programmes, including technical assistance through engagement with various international agencies such as the FAO and through various regional programmes led by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC).
In commemorating FAO’s 75th Anniversary, it is noteworthy to point out that the FAO was one of the first UN specialized agencies that the Cook Islands joined back in 1985. This highlights the importance the Cook Islands Government has long placed on the development of its agricultural sector and the food security of the nation, and the important role that FAO continues to play to this day in our country and our region.
In addition, MFAI, working closely with the Ministry of Agriculture continues to cultivate its relationships on behalf of Government with a host of bilateral partners who have supported the Cook Islands food security over the years. This includes most noticeably Japan, through its very successful Grassroots programme which has seen direct investment and support for a very broad range of agricultural projects at the community level both here in Rarotonga and in our sister islands. Likewise, our relationships with China and India have also seen investment and support towards improving the Cook Islands agricultural self-sufficiency and food security.
On World Food Day it is timely to consider the importance of food security as a key component in a country’s overall human security. Under the National Security Policy currently being drafted by MFAI, national food security will be considered under four main pillars: availability, access, utilisation and stability. In consultation and conjunction with other agencies of Government and community stakeholders, specific activities will be formulated to promote and strengthen the Cook Islands’ food security under each pillar. In undertaking those initiatives, MFAI will continue to strengthen collaboration with relevant domestic stakeholders, regional and international organisations and to incorporate traditional knowledge practices where appropriate.
It is important now more than ever, as we face the impacts of the global COVID19 pandemic, that our country improves its self-sufficiency and focusses on import substitution, placing less reliance on imported foodstuffs and fostering a diversified and innovative economy to help us through these challenging times. MFAI will continue to play its part in achieving these goals through utilizing its network of international partners and encouraging opportunities through trade platforms such as PACER PLUS. MFAI will continue to look for opportunities for our local private sector and work toward a more resilient and diversified economy.
In addition, MFAI’s Immigration service facilitates access to migrant workers, a number of whom are employed in the Cook Islands agricultural sector, contributing to what we see today on show at the World Food Day and on our shelves in the supermarket and down at Punanga-Nui on weekends.
MFAI would like to congratulate the Ministry of Agriculture for its great initiative today, particularly the bringing a broad cross section of Cook Islands society, including our students. We wish all our growers every success, and look forward to continuing to work collaboratively and constructively together, including with our overseas partners, for the ongoing health, wellbeing and security of our people. Taku Ipukarea, kia rangatira.
For further insight into FAO support to the Cook Islands, see http://www.fao.org/countryprofiles/index/en/?iso3=COK and SPC support, see https://www.spc.int/our-members/cook-islands/details
- Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture Marama Anguna delivering keynote remarks for WFD celebrations;
- Locally manufactured jams, chutneys, sauces and chips for sale at WFD;
- Deputy Prime Minister Robert Tapaitau presenting 2nd prize to young Teava Nicholas of Apii Nikao for the coconut husking competition;
- Minister of Business Trade and Investment Board Patrick Arioka with the cake celebrating the 40th birthday of WFD and 75th birthday of the FAO; and
- Apii Arorangi students ei making at the WFD celebrations.