Your Excellency Mr. Mimica, EU Commissioner for International Development and Cooperation,
The Director General for International Development and Cooperation,
Directors and Senior staff of DG DEVCO,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Allow me to firstly bring forth, the greeting of the Government and the People of the Republic of Vanuatu to your Excellency and to EU Citizens on this important day and extend to you our warm gratitude for the work undertaken by the European Union in Vanuatu for the past 38 years, in the context of EU-ACP partnership. This partnership which will lapse in 2020 is based on the legacy of a shared history, Common Values, Economic and trade relation, and is of great importance to the Government and the People of the Republic of Vanuatu as it favors them with EU aid.
Your Excellency on December of 2014, we signed the National Indicative Programme for Vanuatu for the years of 2014-2020. 31 Million Euro were allocated with Rural Development as the main sector of cooperation. As you are fully aware, the Purpose of the 11th EDF is to contribute to poverty reduction, improved livelihood through sustainable economic growth in the rural sector. It’s a very important sector for small economies like Vanuatu, where up to 70% of citizens depend on farming for their livelihoods
I know for a fact that the EU has been supporting this sector for some time. Under the 9th EDF, the rate of implementation was achieved. Under the 10th EDF, major reforms were put in place to better coordinate this program.
Today we embarked in a new development program for Vanuatu Agriculture sector under the European Union National Indicative Programme 2014-2020 of the 11th EDF.
The Vanuatu Value Chain Programme overall objective is to strengthen the rural economy which will create more opportunities as well as enabling a climate resilient Vanuatu, bringing rural development within communities. As stated in the Economic pillar of the Vanuatu National Sustainable Development Plan (NSDP), under the Overarching Productive Sector Policy, and the Vanuatu Trade Policy Framework, the Vanuatu Value Chain programme will effectively contribute to the need for rural development in Vanuatu.
As you are aware, in Vanuatu 70% of the population reside in the rural areas and they are involved in farming and fishing activities for subsistence or income. The productivity in the rural areas is low but it does contribute to over 20% of the Country’s GDP.
In order to address the urgent issue of “urban drift”, agriculture development is a priority for my Government. Incentives are important to keep farmers, but most importantly encouraging our youth to develop agriculture sector.
The Vanuatu Value Chain program will assist farmers in rural areas of Vanuatu to access a more climate resilient production, trade, safety and quality for the target value chains selected products, such as coconuts, beef, and fruits and vegetables.
Furthermore, it is also important that we improve the access to micro financing for small and medium sized enterprise or MSMEs which are struggling to develop business in selected Value Chains which will get support from the Government.
Vanuatu has a very small private sector, and there are communities oriented businesses that I cannot compare with European SMES. Most of the time these businesses are struggling to access financial resources to develop their sector as well as diversify their production. The availability of financial resources doesn’t mean easy accessibility.
The challenge of increasing accessibility to credit facilities at an affordable rate to local farmers is an ongoing issues and I would like to see that this can be considered under either EDF11 or other future development cooperation envelopes.
To conclude I wish to register my profound gratitude to the tireless work done by EU officials and Vanuatu officials who have tremendously contributed to all these procedures leading to the signing today.
Thank you tumas
Hon. Charlot Salwai Tabimasmas
Republic of Vanuatu