Agriculture Package To Encourage Commercialisation


The Government has made a commitment to the community members living in Noimalu district of the upper area of Naitasiri by offering them assistance towards commercial agricultural farming.
Minister for Agriculture and Rural and Maritime Development, Dr Mahendra Reddy, while visiting the rugged region, proposed an agricultural package to farmers to fully utilize their vacant land through the formation of cluster farms.
“We want you to form a cluster of farms and we will provide you with chainsaws for basic land clearing and also provide training to the village members,” Minister Reddy said.
“The most important sector is agriculture and we need to ensure that we develop this in the rural area because you are endowed with a very arable, fertile and productive land that can only provide positive returns if you put it to good use.”
The Agriculture ministry is working closely with the Agricultural Marketing Authority (AMA) to reach out to farmers and facilitate the purchase, sale and exportation of agro and aqua produce.
The ministry made the move after identifying obstacles to farmer’s venture into commercialization being often related to lack of market, limited land size, capacity, and access to capital and finance.
“Your children and mothers have aspirations - they want education, better health facilities, better housing and you have the most important asset – land to utilize and allow the entire community to mobilize and grow together,” Minister Reddy said.
“We will get an excavator and do drainage works, provide you with planting material, do farm road, and if you give consent then we can also clear the gravel so that water can flow out – all at our cost.”
Minister Reddy said the ministry will assist in the first year to fully develop farming potentials of the villagers by providing them with planting materials such as dalo and cassava cutting to grow the community.
“We want you to open bank accounts so we can do direct deposit of your sales within three days and also set up a Farmers Trust Account where we will deduct 15 per cent from your total proceeds,” he added.
“The deducted amount will be kept under the farmers name in the trust account so that you have money to pay for labour; fertilizer or farming tools come next season which will enable you to continue farming every year without having to worry about your expenses.”
“Once you start selling your produce we want to make all the farmers aged below 50-years to be members of the Fiji National Provident Fund and have a farmer’s registration ID card in order to be treated as an entrepreneur and an agriculture business person,” he further added.
Narokorokoyawa Village chief, Ratu Josaia Qereqeretabua in applauding the proposal said this initiative was exactly what they needed and they look forward to work with the ministry.
“A big vinaka vakalevu to the Government. This is the first time to have such a delegation in my village and we are happy to know our people are excited to expand their farms and relieved in getting their items from Sawanikula right to Tabarua,” he said.