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$122m Proposed Budget For 2018/19 Agriculture Sector

$122m Proposed Budget For 2018/19 Agriculture Sector
Assistant Minister for Agriculture Viam Pillay and the Head of Cooperation with European Union delegation Christoph Wagner at the opening of the Regional Forum on ‘Developing Pacific Local Food Crops and Fisheries Value Chains: Key Innovations and Critical Success Factors at the Grand Pacific Hotel, Suva on May 5, 2018.
May 08
10:00 2018

 

The proposed budget for Agriculture under the 2018/19 budget is $122 million; an incremental increase of 34 per cent.

The Government of Fiji had allocated $81 million under the 2017/18 budget.

This was highlighted by the Assistant Minister for Agriculture, Viam Pillay while officiating as chief guest at the opening of the Regional Forum on ‘Developing Pacific Local Food Crops and Fisheries Value Chains: Key Innovations and Critical Success Factors yesterday.

The event was held at the Grand Pacific Hotel, Suva.

“This week, we will hear from the Pacific Financial Inclusion Programme that has developed micro-bundle insurance that is now extended to selected farm commodity groups in Fiji,” Mr Pillay said.

“This will help us understand the obstacles to insurance take-up and help us pave the way to extend weather-based insurance across Fiji, which is currently being developed by FAO (Food and Agricultural Organisation) in collaboration with local consultants.

“Acknowledging, the importance of insurance, the Fijian Government had set apart $350,000 for the topic under the 2017/18 budget.

“Furthermore, we are seeking closer collaboration with the Reserve Bank’s Financial Inclusion Department, and respective Ministries to enhance access to financial services among women and youth in the agriculture sector, which are often more deprived and face more hardship to start farming as a business.

“We believe in a holistic approach, that comprises of various mutually-reinforcing strategies to ensure that the Fiji agricultural sector thrives, and agri-business opportunities are expanded for the benefit of Fijians and the national economy.”

This regional forum brings together stakeholders, senior officials and experts from the private and public sector from Pacific Island States, Asia, Africa, and Europe.

“It is our goal to learn from one another to identify key innovations and critical success factors for the Pacific region.

“I look forward to sharing our experience with you, and to learning from all of you to identify critical success factors and key-innovations for Fiji and the Pacific at large. As such, I encourage all of us to actively participate and share our experiences.

“Many of our struggles regarding the development of a striving agriculture sector and nutritious food systems are common among the Pacific community.

“This week gives us the opportunity to discuss these challenges while advancing our regional coherence.”

 

2017 Housing and Population

Census

The 2017 Housing and Population Census counted 884,887 persons living in 191,910 Households in Fiji.

Of those, Mr Pillay said 80 per cent are still living in the administrative boundary that excludes towns and cities.

“The Census also counted approximately 117,000 households that had engaged in at least one of the following agriculture activities in the past 12 months: growing crops; raising livestock; fishing, freshwater aquaculture, or marine aquaculture,” Mr Pillay said.

“Not all of these households can be classified as farmers, but these statistics show that agriculture activities are still mainstay for many households in Fiji, especially in rural and peripheral areas.

“Furthermore, it is important to note that the vast majority of these households still produce for home consumption, which underlines the importance of agriculture activities for food security in Fiji.

“In fact, a recent pilot baseline survey undertaken by the Ministry of Agriculture shows that of the 51,029 farmers interviewed, only about four per cent can be classified as commercial farmers.”

Adding to this point, he said the same survey also found that nearly 65 per cent of interviewed farmers operated on one ha or less.

“For many farmers in Fiji, the situation is further exacerbated by that fact that they reside in remote areas, such as outer islands and highlands, which lack connection to markets and supply chains due to remoteness and insufficient infrastructure.

“Furthermore, Fiji experiences an increase in extreme weather events such as cyclones, flooding, droughts, which further adversely affect local food production and food security, as we experienced through TC Winston and recently, TC Joshi and Keni.

“Lastly, Fiji has grappled with a negative agriculture trade balance for some years.

“In other words, we import more agriculture products than we export.

“In 2016, our agriculture trade showed a negative result of $453 million.

“In 2016, we exported crop and livestock products worth F$193 million; mainly fresh and chilled commodities such as taro, ginger, cassava, papaya and kava as well as other value-added products such as coconut oil.

“In that same year, we imported $646 million of basic commodities like rice, potato, dairy, fresh and chilled meat.

“Linked to the increase in imported food products, Fiji has experienced a dietary shift away from traditional foods such as root crops and tubers, towards imported and processed foods.

“This has resulted in an increasing number of obesity and non-communicable diseases, which are both at least partially linked to diets.

“Many of the afore listed challenges, – such as small land sizes, dominance of subsistence farming, impacts of climate change, and remoteness and lack of access to markets- are not just pertinent to Fiji but to the Pacific at large.”

He said there is thus a strong need to identify key innovations and critical success factors to strengthen the development of local food crops and fisheries value chains in order to promote nutritious food systems in the Pacific Islands.

Furthering Supply-Chain Development, existing projects focus on Private Sector Development, and Demand Driven Approach Programmes.

Feedback:  maria.laqeta@fijisun.com.fj

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