(June 5, 2024) - In Fiji, New Zealand Prime Minister Christopher Luxon announced NZ $15.3 million in funding for Plant & Food Research to implement a four-year program across five Pacific Island nations, designed to build the resilience of Pacific food systems in the face of climate change.

It will work across five Pacific Island nations - Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Samoa, and Tonga.

“Wherever we do work like this, our goal is to create long-lasting positive impact from world-leading science and good development practice,” said Plant & Food Research CEO Mark Piper. “This exciting Pacific program will be informed by close consultation with local groups and delivered through deep partnerships. Our team cannot wait to get started.”

In Fiji, the program will focus on the Sigatoka Valley, often described as Fiji's 'salad bowl' and one of the most productive agricultural regions in the country. Plant & Food Research will collaborate with the Ministry of Agriculture's Sigatoka Research Station and build on existing partnerships to prioritize climate-resilient farming practices and identify potential innovations for wider application. This will include developing climate-smart technologies, improving soil health, reducing land degradation, and minimizing post-harvest losses.

In Papua New Guinea, the program will focus on staple crops and the fresh produce sector in the Western and Eastern Highlands, collaborating with the Fresh Produce Development Agency and the National Agricultural Research Institute. Additionally, Plant & Food Research will provide technical expertise to World Vision's climate finance program in Bougainville, supporting efforts to improve community livelihoods.

In the Solomon Islands, the program will support existing community development agriculture initiatives, in association with World Vision and Ola Fou in Guadalcanal Province. It will also collaborate with government researchers and extension staff to build capacity in the agriculture sector.

In Tonga, the program will partner with Nishi Trading and the Mainstreaming of Rural Development Innovation program to pilot and scale up climate-resilient practices, engaging both commercial and semi-commercial farmers.

The programme in Samoa will adopt a community-led approach, collaborating with the Scientific Research Organisation of Samoa to identify climate risks and adaptation options through small-scale pilot projects.

This major new Pacific program aligns closely with Plant & Food Research's mission to enhance the value and sustainability of food systems through research and innovation. It also reflects New Zealand's broader strategic commitment to support climate adaptation and resilience in the Pacific.

Plant & Food Research has worked closely with Pacific partners on a range of research and development projects over many years. The impact of the organization’s International Development Unit stretches across India and South-East Asia, to Africa, the Pacific and the Caribbean. Its partnerships build capacity, lift incomes and protect the environment by helping to produce more food from the most sustainable systems.