The Crop Extension Division of the Ministry of Agriculture has been allocated $8.8m for its capital programmes for the new financial year.
In responding to the 2021-2022 Budget, Minister for Agriculture, Waterways and Environment, Hon. Dr Mahendra Reddy said this funding was earmarked to support on-the-ground activities, directly supporting the farmers, and boosting agricultural production and output.
“This funding will focus on provision of planting materials, land preparation, supply of agro-inputs and farming equipment - that will boost farm expansion and agriculture production.
“Some of the major programmes supported through Extension would be Rice Farming Programme, Ginger Farming Programme, Farm Mechanisation, Land Clearing, Highlands Farming Programme, Export Promotion Programme and Food Security Programme,” explained the Minister.
Dr Reddy said the programmes and its corresponding activities were designed to support the delivery of the Ministry’s Strategic Development Plan, which was aligned to the National Development Plan (NDP) and Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).
“We know for a fact that there is an ever-high level of interest from people in all areas to take up agriculture – we will utilise these funds to support these individuals who would like to take up entrepreneurial agriculture.
“We do not believe the allocation is insufficient even though we will have to significantly increase the level of our service delivery and support to meet the increased demand, as we believe and live by the motto of ‘doing more with less’, something each and every one of us should embrace as a way of operating, and practice.”
Dr Reddy said the Ministry was committed to ensure that in the coming financial year through all the financial assistance offered, more and more subsistence farmers would be compelled to elevate their farming status to semi-commercial level.
He added the Animal Health and Production Division was allocated $11m to fund its capital programme in 2021-2022.
“This fund will also be shared across the four geographical division whereby $1.5m will be allocated to the Western Division to cover 26,000 agricultural household, $500k to the Eastern Division to cover for 5,000 agricultural household and $8m to the Central Division to cover 18,000 agricultural households.”
The Minister explained the funding would cater for the provision of fencing material, stock improvement and infrastructure support.
Fiji’s livestock sector, he said, was at the cusp of expanding after years of subdued performance, and the Ministry’s programmes would be aimed to grow livestock production not only for domestic consumption but also for exports.
“We would also aim to support potential investors having interest in this sector to establish their operations and vertically integrate with farm level production activity so that they have full control over supply, quality, and value-add, and export from Fiji.”
The Minister said in 2021-2022 one of the main focuses of the Ministry was to increase production and expand agriculture to ensure that more farmers were engaged in commercial agriculture.
This, he added, would include targeted activities in Crop and Livestock commodities such as ginger, rice, beef, dairy, and goat.
“There is still untapped potential in these areas and whilst we have increased output in these key commodities, there is still more that needs to be done.”