NATION

Pillay offers solution to farmers’ grievances

Government stands ready to help rice farmers, provided that the farmers do their part, says Viam Pillay, the Assistant Minister for Agriculture. A good number of rice farmers had raised
22 Jan 2018 11:00
Pillay offers solution to farmers’ grievances
Rice farmers from Dreketi, Vanua Levu, meet to solve problems they are facing. Photo: Shratika Naidu

Government stands ready to help rice farmers, provided that the farmers do their part, says Viam Pillay, the Assistant Minister for Agriculture. A good number of rice farmers had raised their concerns on the need to have an active Vanua Levu Rice Farmers Association, he said.

Mr Pillay said he was invited by the rice farmers of Dreketi, Macuata, to have a meeting with them last Wednesday and solve their grievances.

Vanua Levu Rice Farmers Association vice president Payara Jajja said since the association was formed two years ago there hasn’t been a constructive meeting or election.

“Farmers are facing lot of problems in the ground and they have raised their concerns, including me as a farmer, but there is no positive movement,” Mr Jajja said.

“We need to have by-laws in place and someone to monitor how the association is performing.”

Mr Pillay suggested to the farmers to discuss among themselves and look forward to form a good committee of faithful leaders.

“We understand the problems the farmers and association have been facing and we told them to liaise with our ministry and work together to iron out problems,” Mr Pillay said.

“I have advised the farmers, my officers and relevant stakeholders to come together for another meeting and choose a representative who can liaise with our officers in the ground and get things done.

“We don’t want to see farmers suffering. I understand there are many rice farmers in Dreketi and nearby areas.”

He said most of the farmers revealed one common problem – the inability to get their rice harvested on time.

“The core of the problem is that all the farmers prepare land at the same time, plant rice at the same time and expecting harvesting at the same time,” he said.

“This current practice has made very difficult for our officers to provide harvesters to all the farmers at the same time.

“So I advised my officers to prepare a schedule of rice planting with few days apart for each farmer so that all of them get time to access our harvesters.

“We don’t want to know their background as long as they are willing to work hard and produce results.

Farmers’ challenges are our challenges,” he said.

Edited by Naisa Koroi

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