The issue of rice milling for farmers of the Nabitu Settlement on the Sigatoka East Bank will now be a thing of the past.

This is after a portable rice mill was officially handed over to the Nabitu Farmers’ Cluster by the Minister for Agriculture, Waterways and Environment, Dr Mahendra Reddy to address one of the binding constraints faced by farmers within the area when it comes to rice farming, namely rice milling.

While handing over the mill, Minister Reddy shared that currently, more than 80 per cent of rice was imported annually as it had become a major staple food for Fijian households.

"Of all the rice that we consume, 84 per cent of the rice is imported, we want to reduce that, we are losing approximately $60 million per year on imported rice, we can save that, if every farmer grows their own rice, we can substantially reduce rice importation."

“We are promoting a rice variety that is in the 100-day range - plant it today, harvest it in just over three months, it is rain-fed rice, so you won't have to irrigate and it is good for consuming as well,” he said.

In addition, Minister Reddy told farmers of Nabitu that the next time they harvest rice and after their rice was dried, they would no longer have to travel far from their settlement or spend money on transportation to mill their rice.

Meanwhile, Nabitu advisory councillor, Rajesh Singh acknowledged the assistance of the Ministry of Agriculture to their farming community through the provision of agriculture support via technological development and advice.
"I thank the Ministry of Agriculture for this portable rice mill because through it, more farmers have now shown an interest in growing rice again, also, we are now able to mill our rice hereafter harvesting it,” said Mr Singh.

"We used to grow rice here 20 years ago and have just recently re-grown it in Nabitu, this is a vegetable farming area, but now there are more farmers willing to grow rice after the assistance being brought to the area for rice farming as they want to grow it for their own consumption,” added Mr Singh.

The portable rice mill is part of the European Union-funded Pro-Resilient Fiji project which is implemented by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) to support the Ministry of Agriculture’s wider aim in ensuring food and income security for Fijian farmers.