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A Chamber of Agriculture is both the "voice" of farmers and a service provider, and the network of Chambers is the way forward to develop trade flows and technical exchanges throughout the Pacific.
A Chamber of Agriculture (CA) is a corporate public institution led by a Board comprising farmers and run by professional technicians from the agricultural sector. A Chamber has two specific mandates:
A Chamber of Agriculture is both the "voice" of farmers and a service provider (and interlocutor) complementary to the Government (i.e. Ministry of Agriculture and Depts). This is a focal point in the overall agricultural scheme, where the farmer assumes a key role and also full responsibility for future challenges.
The CANC has three sources of funding:
Chambers of agriculture were established in France after the First World War and helped boosting the French agriculture.
Their role is manifold: the representation of agricultural interests with Government authorities and through by their composition (farmers, farm workers...) arguing for a "common agricultural interest" regarding the development of the agricultural economy and production such as land, sanitary issues, education and vocational training, etc.
As a major stakeholder for social and economic development, the Chambers are also in charge of the coordination of projects and activities with professional agricultural organizations and other economic stakeholders. They initiate, coordinate and implement “on the ground” development programs that meet the needs of the agricultural sector, the community as well as new market requirements.
They work in four main areas: "advice and assistance" (diversification opportunities, promoting new and more environmentally friendly practices , legal forms promoting the sustainability of farms and their transmission), "Strengthening transfer of technology" in partnership with technical and research institutions , universities, etc., "boosting growth of agriculture economy in rural areas", creating jobs and generating local value addition; "promoting quality products" developing “quality policies” with all stakeholders, promoting local products that enhance agricultural activity.
In New Caledonia, the Chamber of Agriculture is a “public administrative institution” established by Decree (No. 766 of 23 July 1936). This is the advisory body and representative of the interests of the agricultural sector with the Government and it plays a major role in the agricultural sector in supporting development, assistance, advice and training of farmers in rural areas. For that purpose, the CANC designs, manages and contributes in the financing of any action of agricultural and rural interest at national and provincial levels.
CANC Board comprises 30 farmers elected by all members (approx. 2000) in the 3 provinces. The technical and administrative team is distributed in the 3 provinces as follows:
Among all the services, here are 4 examples that give an overview of what the CANC is doing (and achieving) :
GDS-V has been established to support farmers and proposing solutions to meet with consumers requirements (less pesticides). It acts as a coordination platform and brings together all stakeholders in order to share information and knowledge, endorse strategies and distribute tasks for implementation. GDS-V is specifically involved in i) Plant pest disease diagnosis (Epidemiosurveillance Network); ii) Sustainable plant protection and pest management training. One of the main objectives is “to make farmers the focus” within the decision-making and operational scheme.
Given the high price of fertilizer in New Caledonia (limited volume, high cost of transportation), the provinces agreed to cover part of the cost price (about 42%) and have entrusted to the CANC the management of orders with overseas manufacturers, transport, storage and distribution to members. Again, the CANC is the interface between government & provincial institutions and farmers, providing a much needed service to reduce production costs, however unprofitable for a private company.
Upon request and funding by the Northern Province, which does not have the capacity to implement such service, the CdG offers specific assistance to farmers: accounting & management, technical & economical farm assessment, cash flow monitoring, economic studies, social or fiscal assistance.
This accounting/management monitoring assistance is a prerequisite for success, especially for a young farmer who started his activity recently, but also a condition for government & provincial incentives. This service is all the more justified within the CANC which has a good knowledge of the agricultural context.
As part of its mission in structuring and supporting the agricultural sector, the CANC aims at grouping farmers engaged in organic farming. CANC has promoted the Pacific Organic Standard (POS) of the SPC since 2008, with farmers and local institutions. This work led to the creation of the association BioCalédonia which is in charge of the Participatory Guarantee System (PGS) based on POS standard requirements. The CANC is also committed in POET Com as a founding member, and supports promotion and active participation in its overall mission.
For most of services to farmers, the Government and/or the Provinces of New Caledonia entrust the management (more efficient) and finance to the CANC, while empowering farmers.
Since 2009, support to the Vanuatu Chamber of Agriculture (VCA) is one of the priority areas of cooperation between Vanuatu and New Caledonia, and foundations have been put in place (Note: the establishment of the VCA was delayed in 2013 and the MALFFB decided to change the structure of the Chamber to ensure its autonomy, ad hoc governance, and sustainability to fulfil its mission -that will remain quite similar).
From 2012, the regional technical cooperation operations is overseen and decision endorsed by a Steering Committee “Chambers’ network in the Pacific” comprising MALFFB & VCA, CANC, CCIMA , CAPL , meeting twice a year, thus giving legitimacy and coherence to this cooperation. The aim is to rely on a "win-win" concept to develop agricultural trade of goods and services between stakeholders, while regional cooperation serves as a tool to support economic development.
In early 2014, a new service “Technical Cooperation: Network of Chambers of Agriculture in the Pacific” is established at the CANC. The purpose is to facilitate the development of a technical cooperation platform, to pool the provision of support services to farmers and other stakeholders of the private sector, within a regional network of Chambers, particularly with Vanuatu, Wallis and Futuna, French Polynesia and other countries as required. The aim is "to develop trade flows and technical exchanges between States and French Overseas Countries and Territories (FOCT’s) in the Pacific". TA position is currently funded by the Government of New Caledonia and the Fonds Pacifique (France) and for sustainability purpose, the objective is now to mainstream other donors, such as Provinces of New Caledonia and regional donors.
The specific objectives the “Coordination Platform” will achieve are to facilitate the:
“Facilitating contact with other countries in the Pacific, acting as a focal point among policy makers and linkage with stakeholders of the private sector, training of technicians, supporting the development of organic agriculture and strengthening POET Com ...” are some of the topics that could be dealt which the SPC and the network of Chambers of Agriculture.
The Chamber of Agriculture is a farmers' organization serving farmers. It’s not "an organization on top of the other" but an umbrella organization that gives back to the farmer a major role in decision-making within the agricultural sector. Duties are carried out in close collaboration with all stakeholders of the agricultural sectors, including the Government (and Provinces) who entrusts public service missions to the Chamber.
François Japiot, Project Manager, Technical Cooperation "Network of Chambers of Agriculture in the Pacific (TC-NCAP)
Phone: +687 24 63 70 - Mobile: +687 76 16 91 - Email email@example.com