Agriculture


Vanuatu land is an island nation with a relatively small land area and population.  Only one third of the total cultivable land is presently farmed.  Transport services, both inter-island and intra-island are a major constraint to marketing and this to increasing productivity and the volume of production. The Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing sector accounts for around 15% of total GDP and for almost all merchandise exports.  Vanuatu is still agriculture-based economy with copra, cocoa, kava and cattle continuing to dominate the sector.  Since 2003, the agriculture sector has grown at an annual rate of 3.3 percent compared to 2.8 percent growth for the economy and an average population growth rate of 2.6 percent per annum.  The domestic market for agricultural products is quite limited.  While at least 80 percent of the population reside in the rural areas and depend on agriculture for their livelihood, productivity, particularly in the traditional crops sector, is quite low.  The export of high value specialty commodities, particularly those that are organically grown, represents great potential.  In order to increase the penetration of premium niche markets by these commodities, however, the volume of production must be increased.  The challenge in agriculture is to increase production and productivity and improve marketing systems and market access for both traditional food crops and high value specialty commodities.  The fisheries resources are under-exploited.  Improvements in catching, handling and marketing systems and commercialization of the domestic fishing industry are badly needed, but the fisheries resources are probably not sufficient to supply a larger proportion of the protein needs of a rapidly growing population form local stocks and to sustain the limited fisheries resources.

Vanuatu posses soils and climate that are conducive to timber production and environment in the world for raising beef cattle. The challenges for this sector will include ensuring replanting of trees at a rate at least equal to the volume being harvested; to foster the utilization of additional species; and to develop additional value-added processing.  Developing a sustainable forestry sector will depend on attracting investors for developing larger commercial timber plantations.  A parallel opportunity for development lies on organizing and empowering mobile sawmill operators to expand into value adding wood processing.

Institutional Settings

The Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Forestry, Fisheries and Biosecurity’s (MALFFB) comprises five sectors namely;

*  Agriculture and Development
*  Forestry
*  Fisheries
*  Livestocks
*  Biosecurity

The vision of the Ministry is the nation’s agricultural, forestry and aquatic resources are sustainable and managed efficiently, so that the economy of Vanuatu continue to grow and improve the well being of the people of country.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Forestry, Fisheries and Bio-security sectors 2014 – 2018 Corporate Plan was launched in 2014.

This new management tool designed to help guide each department carry out key policy directions will ultimately ensure that the goals and visions of the government are filtered down to the rural farmers of Vanuatu.

This new leadership tool will no doubt increase the productivity of all five sectors in all of the islands of Vanuatu.

In the process of developing the MALFFB Corporate Plan 2014-2018, identified the urgent need areas from the Cabinet, Corporate Service unit, Productive Sectors, industries and Communities.

By developing annual business plan in accordance with these corporate plan objectives, will enable MALFFB to achieve the Overarching Productive Sector Policy Goals which will also transform Vanuatu to Healthy, Educated and Wealthy Nation.

Agriculture and Rural Development
The Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) aims to build an agriculture sector that is robust and competitive, one that contributes to improved economic growth and trading opportunities, food security, reduction of poverty, and improved livelihoods ensuring also that the benefits derived are equally distributed between the rural and urban populations.

Development

Commodities
The goal of the commodities program is to increase production and trade of commodities; namely cocoa, copra, coffee, spices, kava and horticulture and ensure that farmers are organized and empowered with skills and resources to meet trading requirements.

Livestocks
Vanuatu has one of the most conducive environments in the world for raising beef cattle. Domestically the production of beef, pork, poultry and sheep/goat for local consumption forms an essential part of the economy.
Although beef exports have increased in recent years there remain many capacities hindering such growth.  Cattle production is limited by poor transport, a lack of credit for rural farmers, and limited government extension programs.  Processing for export is rendered by high quality and freight costs compounded by the relatively small-scale level of processing throughput.

 

Forestry
Vanuatu possesses soils and climate that are conducive to timber production.  The challenges for this sector will include ensuring replanting of trees at a rate at least equal to the volume being harvested; to foster the utilization of additional species; and to develop additional value-added processing.

Developing a sustainable forestry sector will depend on attracting investors for developing larger commercial timber plantations. A parallel opportunity for development lies on organizing and empowering mobile sawmill operators to expand into value adding wood processing.

Although there is a big decrease to the GDP, the Department of Forests continues to maintain awareness and trainings on reforestation and afforestation. There are 18 nurseries established in all the provinces where farmers can source seedlings to increase the number of tree plantings.

Reports from the provinces indicate the growing number of farmers annually who participate in establishment of private woodlots.  Tree planting is regarded as a long-term development that can only be harvested at a certain maturity/age, hence the department’s vision for the next five years is to increase its revenue to twice the amount collected in 2000.

The Department of Forests (DOF) has the regulative and administrative responsibility for the management of the forestry sector throughout Vanuatu.  It leads the implementation of the National Forest Policy and implements and enforces the forestry legislation.  It promotes the integral and sustainable management of all forest resources for the supply of products and services.  It approves utilization operation agreements and ensures that all forest-related orders and codes are implemented.  It collects information about forest resources, conducts forest research and facilitates the development of commercial plantations and agro-forestry systems.  It provides advice on forest conservation, protected areas and National Parks.  The DOF provides forest policy advice to the Government and ensures the sustainable management and conservation of Vanuatu’s forests.

Fisheries
The Vanuatu Fisheries Department (VFD) is the government body charged with the implementation and enforcement of fisheries management laws, policies, regulations and principles under the Ministry of Agriculture, Live stock, Forestry, Fisheries and Biosecurity (MALFFB).

The mission of the Fisheries Department (VFD) of Vanuatu is “to ensure sustainable management, development and conservation of fish resources in order to achieve maximum social and economic benefits to Vanuatu for the present and future generations”.  Research and Aquaculture Division. The VFD is composed of six divisions: Administration, Management & Policies, Development & Capture, Research & Aquaculture, Seafood verification and Licencing & Compliance.

The fisheries sector comprises the oceanic and coastal fisheries resources which are exploited at the subsistence, artisanal and industrial levels.

Subsistence activities include coastal line and net fishing targeting demersal and small pelagic reef and lagoon fish, as well as reef gleaning and collection of shellfish and other invertebrates.

Most of the catch is for home consumption or family distribution, but where markets or handling and distribution facilities exist some part may be sold.

The subsistence fishery is becoming increasingly cash-oriented around urban areas, with varying portions of the catch being sold, as such effective and efficient CMMs are needed to be put in place to manage, monitor and control harvest.

Artisanal fishing with bottom hand lines primarily targets deep-water snappers and groupers.  Improvements in catching, preservation, processing, transportation and marketing are needed.

The current domestic fisheries production is not sufficient to meet a rapidly growing population.  Commercial harvest of oceanic fisheries resources are landed in overseas ports; as such, little economic activity is generated within Vanuatu from these activities.

The Department of Fisheries is currently engaged in facilitating and promoting Aquaculture development of freshwater fish species as an alternative measure to address poverty, food security, and diversity of eco-activities.

Biosecurity

Biosecurity plays an important role in the protection of the productive sector from incursions of pests and diseases which can reduce the availability of food.

In Vanuatu, it needs to be strengthened in order for Vanuatu to meet all international obligations and standards that enable trade to take place.  Preparedness and response plans must be in place to address any incursions or outbreaks of pests and diseases.

Biosecurity Vanuatu works closely with other agencies, in particular the Customs Department and the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.