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Food Bill Concern

Bringing down Fiji’s high import bill for food is one of the priorities for Assistant Minister for Agriculture, Rural and Maritime Development and National Disaster Management Joeli Cawaki. Delivering his
14 Oct 2014 11:38
Food Bill Concern
Prime Minister Voreqe Bainmarama during a high level briefing with senior Government officials and stakeholders at Nasilivata House in Suva on January 17, 2020. Photo: Shalveen Chand

Bringing down Fiji’s high import bill for food is one of the priorities for Assistant Minister for Agriculture, Rural and Maritime Development and National Disaster Management Joeli Cawaki.

Delivering his maiden speech in Parliament yesterday, the former Commissioner Western, made his intentions clear about boosting agro-production with local farmers.

‘’Only now we are starting to grow some of the produce that we have been importing at high cost. We need to be more attuned to our local market and the demand for foodstuffs in the tourism industry in particular,’’ he said.

The FijiFirst manifesto provided clear direction for helping iTaukei farmers in particular, he said.

‘’For too long, the iTaukei have enjoyed ownership of a great asset but haven’t the means to develop it. With this initiative, we hope to empower iTaukei landowners to consider a range of development ideas. Certainly, we need to free up more land for development rather than having it lying idle. It is the key to a more prosperous futurefor the iTaukei and greater wealth for the economy in general,’’ he said.

Cawaki also outlined plans for his other portfolio, Rural and Maritime Development.

‘’We need to create more jobs in rural areas and we will. We need to improve access to education and health and we are. And we are delivering such things as electricity and clean water that many isolated places in Fiji have never experienced. The Government has also put a huge amount of effort into improving transport links with new inter-island vessels,’’ he said.

The rural-urban migration is also a concern that needs to be reversed, Mr Cawaki said. Part of the strategy of reversing this migration would be to intensify the development of services in rural areas.

He appealed to iTaukei landowners to make their land available for more productive use to benefit the wider economy.

He also plans to improve the disaster response mechanisms within the country because of the frequent natural disaster threats.

‘’We need to develop and cultivate a better culture of risk management. We need to continually refine our systems to deal effectively with cyclones, tsunamis and earthquakes when they strike and minimize the impact on our people,’’ he said.

He was confident as a former member of the military, that his skills and the ‘can-do’ attitude of the military would hold him in good stead as he delivered services to the people of Fiji.

Feedback: josuat@fijisun.com.fj

 

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