During the discussion period Gail Townsend, Ministry of Education, informed participants of exciting new curriculum developments that will assist young Cook Islands to see agriculture (especially horticulture) as a viable career path and business opportunity.
Also during the discussion the Minister of Agriculture, Hon. Kiriau Turepu, noted that on both nights many issues had been discussed, but there is a need to give more attention to the solutions and the required actions. He also noted the need for a special, in-depth discussion on land use policy, with all stakeholders participating.
Participants benefitted from the well-informed presentation by eight speakers.
Brian Tairea was the keynote speaker. He discussed the many threats to agriculture in the Cook Islands, including pests and diseases and how their significance is affected by climate change.
Representing the Growers' Association, Teava Iro noted the current high dependency on fertilisers and sprays, and advocated for more sustainable approaches, including the use of compost as a soil conditioner.
Othenial Tangianau shared his thoughts on forestry as a means to reducing soil erosion, highlighting the advantages and disadvantages, including in a changing climate when water availability may be reduced.
Tiria Tiria provided an overview of the links between livestock farming and climate change.
The potential for climate change to increase the number, distribution and impact of invasive species in the Cook Islands was discussed by Elizabeth Munro. She also described the many ways to prevent and manage invasive species.
The many challenges of providing effective quarantine services for the Cook Islands were outlined by Ngatoko Ngatoko.
Arona Ngari of the Cook Islands Meteorological Service discussed the importance of information for the successful management of the impacts of climate change on agriculture.
Maria Tuoro highlighted the importance of a comprehensive and widely supported land use policy for managing the effects of climate change and the many other pressures on land resources.
Mata Hetland and John Hay chaired the two nights of the Forum on Agriculture in the Face of Climate Change.