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Fiji Sun



December 31
12:00 2009

Written By : SUN FIJI NEWSROOM. Agriculture continues to represent the principal economic mainstay of the country and quite often, is metaphorically referred to as its economic backbone although with a reliance mainly on the sugar industry.
In addition, agriculture has the potential in other sectors such as tourism and agro-industries.
As the major economic activity in the rural areas, agriculture plays an important and pivotal role in the process of rural development and poverty alleviation.
Despite a number of setbacks in the agriculture sector last year, it performed admirably, especially given that the supply of fruit and vegetables normalized just five months after the devastating effects of floods in January 2009.
This concerted effort by the Department of Agriculture and specifically the farmers, in getting production back to normality, was commendable.
Exports of fresh vegetables and root crops also increase last year and continue to grow each year.
The completion of phase two of the Nadi River Dredging that will minimize flood levels in the flood-prone Nadi area is another noticeable achievement.
The Department of Agriculture also embarked on a National Agriculture Census, 18 years after the last census was conducted in 1991 and the first draft of the report should be ready by the end of April this year. This census report will enable us all to better plan agricultural development in Fiji.
Despite these successes, the agriculture sector suffered a temporary setback to milk production due to the re-emergence of the Brucellosis disease in the dairy industry. Despite this and given the quick response by the Department of Agriculture and timely assistance from our regional and international partners, the disease was quickly contained and efforts to eradicate the disease are well underway.
With the concerted efforts of the Department of Agriculture and farmers, together they will be able to eradicate this disease from the dairy industry in the near future.
Agriculture has the potential to contribute towards the economic growth of the country. Realizing this potential for development, Government has allocated a total of $68,000 for the development of the agriculture, fisheries and forestry sectors in 2010.
This year, agriculture development will be vigorously pursued with the overall aim of achieving food security, reducing poverty , reducing our imports and increasing our exports.
In this regard Agriculture will undertake programmes to secure Private Public Partnerships in our attempt to reduce our imports of rice, potatoes, meat and dairy products. Likewise, the development and production of high value and livestock for the export and domestic markets.
Concerted efforts will also be made by the Department of Agriculture to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of its service delivery to our farmers and other stakeholders in the agriculture sector.
With these initiatives, agriculture sector will continue to expand and increase its overall contribution to economic growth, stability and to Fiji’s GDP in 2010 and in the years to come.

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