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Seruiratu: Make Agriculture ‘Sexy’ Again

Seruiratu: Make Agriculture ‘Sexy’ Again
Minister for Agriculture, Rural and Maritime Development, and National Disaster Management Inia Seruiratu (bottom centre) with speakers, delegates and officials from the Indian High Commission in Fiji during the Nadi Chamber of Commerce and Industry business forum in Nadi on August 4,2018. Photo: Waisea Nasokia
August 06
11:50 2018

Being a farmer himself, Mr Seruiratu said that agriculture had been one of the most affected sectors in the past years due to the climatic changes and natural disasters that ravaged Fiji and even claimed lives.

Minister for Agriculture, Rural and Maritime Development, and National Disaster Management Inia Seruiratu aims to make the agriculture sector in Fiji “sexy” again.

He made the comment during the Nadi Chamber of Commerce and Industry business forum, held in conjunction with the Indian High Commission in Nadi on Saturday.

Participants and members of the Nadi Chambers of Commmerce and Industry during the business forum in Nadi which also included officials from the Indian High Commission in Fiji on August 4,2018. Photo: Peni Komaisavai

Participants and members of the Nadi Chambers of Commmerce and Industry during the business forum in Nadi which also included officials from the Indian High Commission in Fiji on August 4,2018. Photo: Peni Komaisavai

“I always believe in leading from the front and I have to be involved in agriculture in order to convince people the agriculture is sexy and this is one of the tasks given to me regarding agriculture and that is to make agriculture sexy again,” Mr Seruiratu said.

Being a farmer himself, Mr Seruiratu said that agriculture had been one of the most affected sectors in the past years due to the climatic changes and natural disasters that ravaged Fiji and even claimed lives.

Mr Seruiratu highlighted that farms in the Western Division whether it be sugarcane or vegetable farming had been the most affected due to floods and cyclones; hence the reason the agriculture sector seemed less appealing to most.

Mr Seruiratu spoke very passionately about the benefits and history of agriculture during the forum in Nadi’s Tanoa Skylodge Hotel.

Speaking to stakeholders, he said that the revival of the agricultural sector could only be made possible through collective efforts.

“Government cannot function on its’own and I urge all stakeholders, religious organisations particularly the private sector represented by the Nadi business council, as we all know and understand how the private sector works in growing the economy, creating employment and bringing the foreign dollars and all the benefits that come with it,” he said.

Mr Seruiratu referred to the Western Division as an area full of potential and very strategic in terms of agriculture.

“We can talk about shaping our destiny particularly when we are talking about a preferred future in which we all take responsibility and equal ownership, because agriculture is perhaps the backbone of the economy,” he said.

He said although agriculture had been overtaken over the years by tourism and the other sectors because of some setbacks suffered caused by climate changes, it was still an important Gross Domestic Product (GDP) contributor

“But we still employ a good number of Fijians although the performance over the years and contribution to Fiji’s GDP)has dropped significantly,” he said.

“I am not only here to defend agriculture but I am here to justify the reasons of the drop in performance of the agriculture sector.

“Like in any other developing state when all the other sectors in the economy are performing well, agriculture is definitely one of the sectors that will pay the price.”

He said one of the main reasons agriculture got affected was mainly due to phenomenon called rural to urban population shift.

“It is a global phenomenon, people are shifting to urban areas, particularly some of them whose livelihoods revolved around agriculture,” the minister said.

“When these rural to urban shifts takes place, one sector lose their numbers while the other gains, thus agriculture was the sector on the losing end.

“If you look in to Fiji’s economy as well, represented in the sector of five, previously we used to have eight to 10 sectors but now it is over 20 sectors.”

He said a lot of changes have occurred in terms of the growth of one sector decreased the other.

“Tourism back then was a small contributor to the economy because they were just picking up in tourism, but now it has overtaken the other sectors,” he said.

According to Mr Seruiratu, the agriculture sector’s contribution to GDP overall is increasing, but there is still work to do.

He said that is what Government would be working on, at the same time exploring ways to make agriculture “sexy” and attractive again for Fijians..

Feedback:  peni.komaisavai@fijisun.com.fj

 

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