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Fiji Sun


Feed Fiji first: Go local

July 20
12:00 2010

image Written By : JESSAN DOTON. “It is our collective goal to reduce the total import bill for rice, potatoes, dairy, sheep and beef by $105m in the next few years,” said Permanent Secretary for Primary Industries, Colonel Mason Smith, when he opened the Agriculture show last Thursday at the Sigatoka Research Station.
“The theme “Feed Fiji First: Go Local” is appropriate as we endeavour to ensure food security for all our citizens,” said Colonel Smith.
He adds that this initiative runs in parallel with the Government’s strategic development goals in the agriculture sector where, in time, local produce can sustain local needs, and increase export.
In addition, he said the Import Substitution Programme (ISP) is also linked very closely to “feeding the hotels” and improving the livelihood of Fiji’s rural population.
The current tendency to rely on imported products for local use is something that the Agriculture department aims at doing away with in the years to come.
“Therefore, the Sigatoka Valley Improvement Programme (SVIP) and ISP were implemented to assist farmers and entrepreneurs to increase the production of crops and livestock which are being imported,” explained Colonel Smith.
The weak capacity of Quarantine Services to develop and negotiate market access under Bilateral Quarantine Agreements (BQA), along with limited extension capacity to service farmers seeking to comply with BQA requirements has affected exports.
Colonel Smith says that the government has recognised this constraint and aims to reform this matter through the formation of an independent body called the Biosecurity Authority of the Fiji Islands (BAFI).
Another entity being developed is the Fiji National Crops and Livestock Council and Fiji National Agriculture Research Council.
Colonel Smith explained that “the councils will be responsible for development in research in the crops and livestock sector in Fiji at the macro policy level. It will also be the voice of our farmers during national debates on issues affecting the non-sugar agriculture sector.”

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