Rural Fiji has a lot to contribute towards the country’s economic growth and these potentials need to be realised, especially in Vanua Levu.
This was reiterated by Minister for Rural and Maritime Development and Disaster Management Hon. Inia Seruiratu on the conclusion of the three-day tour of the Northern Division by the Prime Minister Hon. Voreqe Bainimarama last week.
Minister Seruiratu was among the group of Cabinet Ministers who accompanied the Prime Minister on his tour of the division to visit development projects undertaken by the Government and meet with Fijians in the North.
Minister Seruiratu said there were huge potentials and opportunities in Vanua Levu that needed to be tapped into to improve the livelihoods of those in rural areas and also contribute to the development and growth of not only Vanua Levu but the country as a whole.
“We have always stated from the beginning that rural Fiji has a lot to contribute to our growth and particularly in terms of our GDP (Gross Domestic Product) and of course those potentials need to be realised,” he said.
“Vanua Levu is a more agro-based economy because we have a lot of activities in agriculture, particularly sugar, rice and copra and of course livestock as well. There are a lot of activities in the forestry sector and the fisheries sector as well. We are particularly impressed with the improvements done in the sugar and non-sugar sector as well.”
“Rice – Vanua Levu still has the Government rice mill and we have seen the improvements in the production and the processing facility in Dreketi as well. For copra – we used to focus on copra only but now it’s the whole of the coconut industry.”
Minister Seruiratu also reiterated that these were exciting times to be living in rural areas because despite the economic downturn and challenges posed by the global COVID-19 pandemic, rural Fiji still had abundance of resources.
“We are encouraging our people, particularly now with the issues faced because of COVID-19, this is a good time to be in rural Fiji. Of course we need to maximise the potentials that we have particularly with the primary industries in the form of agriculture, fisheries and forestry and Vanua Levu has a lot to contribute.”
Minister Seruiratu also said the intentions of Government had been very clear from the very beginning- that development programmes were all inclusive.
“We want to ensure that no one is left behind,” he said.
“This was a great opportunity for the Hon. Prime Minister and the members of Cabinet to touch base and be updated with the current developments that are happening particularly in rural Fiji.”
“For Vanua Levu particularly, the Government has been committed to the ‘Look North Policy’. Since then that saw the establishment of the Northern Development Programme and a lot of Government projects and initiatives Vanua Levu is enjoying right now.”
“Vanua Levu has a lot of potentials as well that can help in the growth and development of the country. It is a major contributor to our GDP as well and there are development programmes that the people of Vanua Levu need to have access to so that they can enjoy the services of Government and not only the projects, but of course the improvement of Government’s services as well in the form of infrastructure, utilities, communications, transportation, water and energy and of course the socio-economic issues as well, particularly in terms of economic empowerment of Fijians.”