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.
1.2 Institutional Settings
The Ministry of Agriculture, Quarantine, Forestry and Fisheries (MAGFF) comprises six programs namely;
- Cabinet Support
- Executive management and Corporate Services
- Agriculture and rural development
- Livestock & Quarantine Services
The Ministry has four major medium-term programs to address increased resource production, market access and trade facilitation, biosecurity, and agro-processing and adding value.
The vision of MAGFF is that: The nation’s agricultural, forestry and aquatic resources are sustainable and managed efficiently, and that these resources make a significant contribution to the country’s economic growth and well being of the people of Vanuatu.
The MAQFF primary roles include: policy making, provide development incentives, provide administrative and financial management leadership, provide human resource development assistance; ensure that program activities are effectively implemented, ensure that service delivery is effectively provided particularly to the rural sector, monitor revenue collection and budget expenditures to ensure that revenue targets are met and overspending avoided, develop a framework of collaboration with the private industries and facilitate establishment of new investments with an aim to improve economic growth and regularly asses and evaluate performance of the program Directors.
MAQFF cabinet and the Director General’s office and all four (4) Department have their main headquarter located in Port Vila. The departments also have offices located in Luganville town, Santo and sub-centers located at each of the other four provinces (Penama, Malampa, Torba & Tafea).
The Ministry of Agriculture, Quarantine, Forestry and Fisheries Cabinets primary tasks are;
- To monitor and represent its four Department: Agriculture and Rural Development Service, Vanuatu Quarantine and Inspection Service, Forestry and Fisheries and
- To provide relevant support (political) to ensure that the Governments interest are effectively implemented
- Improve policy analysis and management of public policy issues
- Co-ordinate efforts to create conditions for sustained and broad based nation-wide development
The Portfolio Management primary tasks are;
- To ensure that Government policies are effectively implemented
- Ensure that policies effectively address & provide appropriate service delivery to rural areas
- Identify weakness within departments and provide appropriate assistance
- Facilitate creation of a conducive environment at attract investments that contribute to economic self-reliance and improving quality of life particularly at the rural areas
Executive Management and Corporate Services
The Ministry of AQFF executive management and corporate services function are crucial to the Ministry daily operations. Function includes human resource development, financial management and control and taking a leading role in policy development.
The Ministry of AQFF corporate services is under the Director General. This program will enable at the Ministry level, to exercise some central control over budgets and staffing.
Agriculture and Rural Development
The broad objectives of the program is 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.
Specifically the program objectives are to;
- Assist decision makers in policy advice and planning and enhance service delivery through adequately funded development programs and improved management of resources
- Assist farmers and industry in the production, processing and trade of cash crops, thereby increasing rural incomes and foreign exchange
- Assist farmers increase the production of food crops to ensure food security
- Provide effective research and extension services to assist farmers improve farm productivity through the sustainable utilization of farmland and adoption of improved farming systems and
- Assist in organizing and empowering smallholder farmers toward commercial agriculture, such as through producer organization, and establish a Chamber of Agriculture for this purpose
- Provide effective research and extension services to assist farmers toward commercial agriculture, such as through producer organizations, and establish a chamber of Agriculture for this purpose
- Assist in organizing and empowering smallholders farmers toward commercial agriculture, such as through producer organizations and establish a chamber of Agriculture for this purpose
The Vanuatu commodities Marketing Board (VCMB) was originally established to support quality improvement and price stabilization for copra using EU stabex index. (stabex funds are the European Commission’s compensatory finance scheme to stabilize export earnings of the Africans, Caribbean and Pacific group of countries.
Vanuatu Agricultural Research and Training Centre (VARTC), the Agriculture College, and VCMB. VARTC undertakes applied research (an important core role for a government agency), but it has little ability to influence agricultural development because it is under-sourced.
The Agricultural College, based in Santo, was funded by the Peoples Republic of China and commenced limited operations in 2007. It runs short courses for farmers delivered by MAQFF extension officers. It is also developing curricular for horticulture, forestry, and livestock management course, each of which must eventually be accredited by the Vanuatu National Training Council.
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.
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.
Vanuatu faces a natural constraint to large in production of forestry in production of forestry products, as even though some 36% of the country is forested, a large of this unsuitable for commercial logging due to the poor quality of timber and inaccessibility to sites.
Even so, lack of sustainable management of the resource is a concern, given that harvest rates are greater than replanting and the fact that forest resource has been made. This will greatly facilitate the realization of opportunities for further growth and development of the sector. The opportunities include the establishment of commercial tree plantations, expansion of agro-forestry, greater utilization of timber species other than the two most commonly harvested, increased use of non-wood forest products and downstream processing for value added.
Fisheries development officers support the local fishing industry by providing equipment such as ice-making machines and fish-aggregating devices, technical advice, information, training, and improvements to marketing networks. Most fisheries are in the coastal and near shore zones, although some deepwater and pelagic fisheries supply urban markets.
According to the 2007 Agriculture Census, 75% of rural households are involved in fishing, so it is not surprising that costal fishing for local markets and home consumption also occurs.
Trochus, green snail, and sea cucumber are harvested, although concerns about exploitation resulted in a 15 year moratorium on green snail harvesting that began in 2006, and a 5 year moratorium on sea cucumber that began in 2008. An aquarium products industry has developed in 2007. See below.
Product Quantity Value ($) Quantity Value($)
Live Fish 175, 283 99, 103 148, 194 450, 000
Live Rock 17, 464 24, 240 - 11, 187
Live Clam 11, 883 33, 768 13, 002 84, 125
Coral 6, 543 35, 893 279 2, 085
Invertebrate 5, 273 4, 400 19, 740 4, 142
TOTAL - 200, 404 551, 539
Sources: Government of Vanuatu, Ministry of Agriculture, Quarantine, Forestry and Fisheries, 2008. Annual Report 2007. Port Vila; and Government of Vanuatu, Department of Fisheries. 2009. Annual Report 2008. Port Vila.
An aquaculture management plan was also launched in 2008. Aquaculture began in 2005, when the first local prawn was established. The farm produces about 30 metric tons each year, all of which is sold locally, mainly to restaurants and resorts.
Domestic fishing is an important source of income and nutrition. As the population grows, the pressure to fish in nearshore areas is likely to increase. Previously, the EU-funded Village Fisheries Development Project, which ran from 1982 to 1987, and the follow-up Vanuatu Fisheries Training Center and Extension Services, which ran over two phases from 1987 to 1996, provided support to rural fishers. Since then, fishes have had little or no direct support other than assistance from the Department of Fisheries on establishing cooperative associations for fisherfolk, which resulted in 71 fish markets by the end of 2008. The department is developing a coastal fisheries policy and plans to provide more support to rural fishers. This year 2010, the Malampa Province Butchery and Fish Market has been successful establish, up and running. This enterprise is funded by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).
Commercial Offshore Fishing
Tuna, mainly albacore, but also yellowfin and bigeye,is the basis of offshore fishing. Foreign-flag vessels fish under license; vessel registered on the Vanuatu Shipping Registry operate as Vanuatu-flagged vessels. There were 30 such ships license to fish in Vanuatu waters in 2008. In 2008, a total of 142 fishing licenses were issued to foreign vessels, and 11 to local vessels, resulting in 144.9 million from licensing and registration fees-more than three times the budget allocated to the Department of Fisheries for the year.
All the tuna caught in local waters is delivered to American Samoa, Fiji, or Papua New Guinea. Vanuatu is now seeking to increase the license fees it can command (thereby generating more revenue) by processing tuna domestically. It is developing a shore-based processing facilities; a tuna long lining base at Black Sands in Mele Bay which is now operating. The plant will be jointly owned by China National Fisheries Cooperation (CNFC) and Government of Vanuatu (managed by Livestock Development). It will process and pack the tuna catch of 40 Chinese longline vessels for export. The vessels will unload an estimated 300 metric tons per month at the main wharf in Port Vila; the catch will then be transported to the processing plant by road. Thirty Vanuatu flagged longline vessels are meant to deliver directly to the second proposed plant in Port Vila Bay, although estimates of the total amounts are not available.
The Department of Fisheries will be able to better monitor catches and more readily implement its observer program. A 4% levy on all fish exported by the processing plants is expected to return about VT1.4 billion in revenue each year.
Vanuatu faces a natural constraint to large increases in production of forestry products, as even though some 36% of the country is forested, a large part of this is unstable for commercial logging due to the poor quality of timber and inaccessibility to sites.