The concept of agroforestry is not new; it is an old farming system with a new name.

It has been practised for years, ever since farming systems were developed that included planting crops among trees and raising livestock on the same land.

Acting Director of SPC's Land Resources Division, Mr Inoke Ratukalou, at the Forestry Training Centre in Suva made this observation when he officially opened a four-day regional training workshop: Tree propagation for agroforestry in the Pacific.

'This farming system has undergone considerable change, and modifications have been made to adjust it to the ecological and socio-economic conditions of the community, which has resulted in the development of a wide range of agroforestry systems,' said Ratukalou.

He added that the increasing demands for food, fuelwood, timber and other products, together with environmental concerns, including climate change, need to be adequately addressed to ensure the sustainability of agroforestry as a farming system.

'With the adverse effects of climate change already occurring in some countries in the Pacific region, farming systems need to evolve in a way that includes the protection and planting of trees for a wide variety of products and functions,' he explained.

Ratukalou encouraged all participants to make the most of this opportunity and take advantage of the experience and knowledge of the resource persons and their fellow participants.

SPC has long been involved in promoting the practice of agroforestry among its member countries and territories, particularly in the atoll countries. A number of regional, sub-regional and national workshops and seminars have been conducted to promote agroforestry in the region.

Ratukalou also acknowledged the involvement of many national governments and non-government organisations in promoting agroforestry among their population.

This training includes practical sessions on plant propagation and other nursery practices, such as species selection, seed collection, seed treatment and germination, potting and maintenance of seedlings, and vegetative propagation techniques. The aim is to share and exchange information, knowledge and experiences of agroforestry, including success stories. The training also aims to evaluate agroforestry practices, and formulate a research and development programme for an agroforestry system suitable for each country in the Pacific.

SPC acknowledges the financial support of the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the European Union through the Forest Research Network of the Pacific in hosting this training workshop.

The training is attended by 30 participants from 14 SPC member countries and territories. It ends on 8 March.