• The Chairman of the Biosecurity Authority of Fiji – Mr Uraia Waibuta;
  • The CEO of BAF – Mr Micheal Bartlett;
  • The Head of Cooperation, European Union Mission,
    Maurizio Cian;
  • The Director, Land Resource Division of the Pacific
    Community – Ms Karen Mapusua;
  • Dr Sophie Petterson of the Australia Department of
    Agriculture, Fisheries and Forest;
  • Members of the fraternity of Biosecurity and
  • Distinguished Guests, and Ladies and Gentlemen.


Ni sa Bula Vina’a, and a very Good Morning, to you all.I would like to begin by acknowledging the Traditional Owners and Custodians of the land on which we stand today, ki na vanua Vakaturaga Saunaka, Vale Levu Sawaiyeke vua na Gone Marama Taukei Na Ua and pay my respect to their Chiefs past and present, as well as to emerging leaders and members of the Vanua o’ Saunaka who may be present here this morning. I acknowledge their role in caring for the Vanua.

I am delighted to join you this morning to open this important and timely Biosecurity Emergency Response Planning and Simulation Workshop.

In our interconnected world, biosecurity is a proactive measure to prevent crises, ensuring the sustainability of our agriculture and the health of our ecosystems, people and our very homes and communities.

As I look around at senior members and practitioners of the biosecurity and agriculture fraternity, I want to thank you for your service and dedication to safeguarding your nation.

I declare that I stand with you as Prime Minister and Head of Government as a fellow protector of our nation’s collective heritage.

Collectively, we hold the responsibility to safeguard our agricultural wealth, the backbone of our economy, and the sustenance of our people.


Importance of Biosecurity


Biosecurity is our first line of defence against the global threat posed by pests, diseases, and
invasive species. Today, I want to issue a call to action: “That Biosecurity is our shared responsibility and collective shield, securing a prosperous and resilient future for all. Together, we uphold this commitment for the well-being of our nation and beyond.

Welcome to Regional Participants


This exercise brings together expertise across oceans and economies, united by a common goal: to fortify our defences against the incursion of exotic pests and diseases.

This important workshop is testament to our commitment to safeguard the agricultural heritage and biodiversity of Fiji and neighbouring Pacific Islands.

I am honoured to welcome the members of this diverse and expert assembly from:
(i) stakeholder agencies within Fiji,
(ii) representatives of National Plant
Protection Organization of various Pacific
Island Countries,

(iii) esteemed experts from the Australian
Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and
Forest, and

(iv) New Zealand Ministry for Primary

Industries and

(v) the Pacific Community (SPC).

For Pacific Island states and territories, agriculture is not just an industry; it is a way of life. In Fiji, agriculture is the backbone of our economy supporting a quarter of our population.

Agriculture also contributes significantly to our GDP—approximately 10% in recent years — and employs around 44% of our workforce.

However, exotic pests and diseases threaten this vital sector, potentially devastating our crops, harming livestock, and threatening food security for our people.

The environment we cherish is equally at risk. Invasive species can disrupt natural ecosystems, endanger native plant and animal species, and lead to biodiversity loss.

The ecological balance we strive to maintain is fragile, and our actions today are crucial in safeguarding it for future generations.

The economic implications of failing to address such threats are severe and the cost of inaction far exceeds the investment in prevention and preparedness.

An outbreak could lead to significant losses in agricultural productivity, costly eradication efforts, and inflict long-lasting damage to international trade relationships.

We must ensure robust biosecurity measures to protect our nation and economy. The global cost of invasive species has been estimated at nearly $1.4 trillion annually — that is close to 5% of global GDP. In the 2023-2024 National Budget, the People’s Coalition Government allocated $3m towards the Termite Control Assistance Programme (TCAP) to curb the spread of Asian Subterranean Termites AST&) in addition to a grant of $300,000 to BAF to assist with response activities.

Importance of this week’s activity I am pleased to open this Emergency Response, Planning and Simulation exercise which is essential to enhance biosecurity vigilance.

This exercise presents the opportunity to test our systems, identify weaknesses, and strengthen our capacities to respond to incursions swiftly and effectively.

It underscores our commitment to implement proactive, rather than reactive, measures in safeguarding our agriculture, environment, and economy.

This exercise also provides a platform to share knowledge, leverage cutting-edge science, and strengthen regional and international partnerships.

An actionable emergency response plan and strengthened bonds of cooperation and understanding between our nations and organizations is critical given the threats we face collectively.

You the participants are here to learn from each other, build upon your collective experiences, and ensure that your nations are better prepared to protect our agricultural assets, natural environments, and economies from the devastating impact of biosecurity threats.

Acknowledgement of Collaborators

On behalf of the Fiji Government, I extend my gratitude to the Australian Government for funding this critical exercise through the Australian Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry and to the Pacific Community (SPC) for their co-funding.

New Market Access


At this juncture, I would also like to highlight the recent achievements between BAF and DAFF, Australia, in terms of market access—a testament to the power of collaboration.

From 1st April 2024, Fiji has been granted access to export Fresh Chilli to Australia.

Indeed, this is a moment of celebration, as it increases the market opportunities for Fiji-grown

I congratulate the Biosecurity Authority of Fiji on identifying new market access for Fijian produce. It is the policy of the People’s Coalition. Government to widen biosecurity support to our farmers and exporters to facilitate international trade in agriculture and I again thank the Biosecurity Authority of Fiji for its efforts in this regard.

With these remarks, I officially open the Biosecurity Emergency Response Planning
and Simulation Workshop.

I urge you to engage fully in this exercise with a sense of urgency, dedication, and a deep
commitment to protecting our beloved nations.

The lessons we learn and the strategies we develop will fortify our defences against threats
to our agriculture, environment, and way of life.

As we stand united, let us remember that the strength of our defenses lies not in isolation but in our shared knowledge, experiences, and the unwavering spirit of cooperation that binds us.

I wish all participants a successful collaboration, and I look forward to receiving an update on the result of your collaborative exercise this week.

I also hope that our guests from Pacific family and members of our Vuvale, Australia, and New Zealand will enjoy their stay and see a bit of Fiji while you are here.

Vinaka Vakalevu, Dhaanyabaad, & Thank you!


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