NATION

More Operators For Bua, Macuata Rice Farmers

The Ministry of Agriculture has recruited five machine operators to assist rice farmers in Bua and Macuata in their harvesting programme. This was revealed by the Assistant Minister for Agriculture
22 Apr 2017 11:53
More Operators For Bua, Macuata Rice Farmers
Assistant Minister for Agriculture Viam Pillay (sitting second from the right) with Government officials, stakeholders and rice farmers during the National Rice Day celebration at Agriculture Training Centre in Dreketi, Macuata on April 21. Photo:SHRATIKA NAIDU

The Ministry of Agriculture has recruited five machine operators to assist rice farmers in Bua and Macuata in their harvesting programme.

This was revealed by the Assistant Minister for Agriculture Viam Pillay during a talanoa session at the Agriculture Training Centre in Dreketi, Macuata, after a number or rice farmers highlighted their problems.

“I was told beforehand that there was only one operator in Bua and farmers faced a lot of difficulties in harvesting rice on time,” Mr Pillay said.

“We have recruited five operators and they will soon be mobilised.

“Hence, I request farmers to advise their senior agriculture officers before a few weeks as to when you would want machines on the farm.

“The demand for machines by farmers is high and so agriculture officers have to work out a schedule in advance so that everyone gets an equal opportunity.”

Vanua Levu Rice Farmers Association president Paras Nath informed Mr Pillay that there were about five rice harvesters standing in the Ministry of Agriculture yard in Dreketi that were not working.

“The harvesters are parked for so many weeks because it is broken down and employees are waiting for parts,” Mr Nath said.

“This is the main rice harvesting season and many farms are left unattended.

“Those farmers who are poor and uneducated are left with no choice, but to sit and watch their rice farm die before their eyes.”

Mr Pillay said a team had been mobilised to look into this as he was made aware that parts were not available.

Northern principal agriculture officer, Paula Tuione requested the rice farmers from the three provinces, Bua, Cakaudrove and Macuata to be patient and work in partnership with the stakeholders as they were trying their best to attend to their concerns.

Some other issues raised were drainage problems and unorganised schedules for harvesting while some farmers requested for fertiliser.

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