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Unsustainable Practices Causing Drop In Soil Quality

Unsustainable Practices Causing Drop In Soil Quality
Minister for Industry, Trade and Tourism, Faiyaz Siddiq Koya, with Ministry of Agriculture Senior Research Officer live stock, Avinesh Dayal, during the 2015 Central Division Agriculture Show yesterday at Syria Park in Nausori. Photo: RONALD KUMAR
September 10
11:27 2015

Fiji is losing approximately 50 tonnes of top soil per hectare per year as a result of unsustainable land use practices.

This has been revealed by the Minister for Industry, Trade and Tourism, Faiyaz Siddiq Koya, who said research had proven the results.

Mr Koya was speaking during the opening of the Central Division Agriculture Show yesterday at Syria Park in Nausori.

This year’s show provides the Ministry of Agriculture the platform to advocate the importance of sustainable management of the land to secure a long-term and viable future.

The theme for the agriculture show is: “Sustain our Soil, Nourish Our Nation, Reaffirm our Future.”

“Soil is a natural resource that is not easily renewed. Sustainable soil management should be a priority for all,” he urged.

“Unless new approaches are adopted, the global amount of arable and productive land per person in 2050 is estimated to be only one-fourth of the level in 1960.”

Mr Koya said farming in Fiji is increasingly being forced onto steeper slopes because of the expansion of cash cropping.

“The unsustainable land use practices have led to nature’s inability to protect the country from natural disasters such as floods,” he said.

“The extent of the problem is such that the soil loss measurements clearly demonstrates the agricultural productive base.

“In many sugarcane areas and with ginger and dalo on slopes, is running down at a rate that is well above what would be regarded as economically-acceptable.”

Mr Koya urged farmers that in order to obtain an organic certification and to be able to demand premium price for their produce, they need to sustain the soil.

“The nourishment of the soil needs to be free of harmful chemicals,” he said.

“Therefore, your future is in your hands, how you tilt your land, what you put in the soil and how you look after the land.”


Agriculture sector

Meanwhile, Mr Koya said the Agriculture sector in Fiji is emerging from predominantly subsistence base and on average contributes to eight per cent to the GDP and accounts for 3.8 per cent of domestic exports.

The main commodities include root crops, such as, dalo, cassava, yams, sweet potatoes and yaqona, tropical fruits, such as, pineapple, papaya and mango, vegetables, ginger, rice tobacco and coconut products are.

However, he said the performance of this sector continues to be challenged by a combination of factors.

These, he said include vulnerability to natural disasters, incursion of pests and diseases, inadequate infrastructure, high cost of production and transportation and poor husbandry and farm management practices.

“Revitalisation of the domestic is at the heart of the Fijian Government’s strategy for the rural sector focusing on growth and poverty alleviation,” he said.

Mr Koya said all Government departments and agencies are working together develop the best policies in partnership.

“My Ministry has identified the need to negotiate more pathways for our agricultural exports to give you the farmers more market opportunities.”



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