BAVU VILLAGE SUCCESSFUL PILOTS ‘WE RICE UP’ PROGRAMME, HARVESTS ONE TONNE FOR HOME CONSUMPTION

03/04/2021

April 1st, 2021 will be the day the 58 households of Bavu Village, Nadroga will never forget after they successfully reaped the first fruits of their labour through their communal rice harvest that was officially recognised by Prime Minister, the Hon. Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama on Thursday (1.4.21).
 
The Prime Minister was at Bavu Village to officially launch the Communal Rice Programme called ‘We Rice Up’. 
 
Each of the 58 households received 9kg bag of rice for their home consumption from the rice they had grown in their one-acre piece of land at the end of October last year.
 
Mrs Siteri Lewarei, 54, wife of the village headman of Bavu, who spoke in i-Taukei, said they faced a lot of difficulties during COVID-19 when villagers who worked in the tourism industry lost their source of income after they were laid off.
 
In addition, she said, they also relied on the land and returned to full time to backyard gardening when they were encouraged to make use of the land. 
 
Again, they also faced challenges with the weather in terms of the Tropical Cyclone Yasa and TC Ana that destroyed the vegetables and root crops they had planted.
 
Mrs Lewarei expressed her gratitude to the Ministry of Agriculture for the initiative as well for providing the much needed assistance that led to the success of the project.
 
She said they were very happy to see the results of their hard work paying off with their inaugural rice harvest.
 
Bavu Women’s Club President, Mrs Timaima Ralolokula, 37, expressed similar sentiments and added the project was an eye opener for them.
 
Mrs Ralolokula said after the project they now had a choice, that is, instead of cassava they could have rice. 
 
She was thankful that it only took three months to harvest such a huge amount of rice for their home consumption and that they also had a market to sell it to.
 
Mrs Ralolokula said both the men and women of Bavu Village worked side by side throughout the process from planting to drying, and milling it.
 
She was also grateful to the Ministry of Agriculture for its support and hoped its Budget would be increased so that villages like theirs could benefit from its capital programmes.
 
Minister for Agriculture, Waterways and Environment, the Hon. Dr Mahendra Reddy said like the success of Bavu Village, he also wanted all villages in Fiji to participate in the ‘We Rice Up’ Programme.
 
“You can allocate five acres, six acres, seven acres, or 10 acres of land. We want you to grow your rice for your own consumption, we are not asking you to sell it.
 
“You grow it, we buy it, Fiji Rice will buy it,” Minister Reddy told the Bavu villagers.
 
He said villages only needed to identify the land, prepare it which the Ministry would assist with as well and provide the rice seeds too.
 
Villagers, he added, were to cultivate the land and after one hundred days, the rice would be ready.
 
“We will bring the harvester to harvest it for you. You can dry it, and we will bring the small portable rice mill to mill the rice,” Dr Reddy said.