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Minister Reddy Announces Healthy Agriculture COVID-19 Response

The Agriculture COVID-19 Response was announced by Minister for Agriculture Mahendra Reddy in Legalega yesterday, as a precautionary measure undertaken by the Ministry to help the nation’s response.
19 Mar 2020 12:44
Minister Reddy Announces Healthy Agriculture COVID-19 Response
Minister for Agriculture Mahendra Reddy with stakeholders.

An Agriculture Response Package for COVID-19 will be implemented to ensure access to adequate food of acceptable quality and nutritional value is not affected.

The Agriculture COVID-19 Response was announced by Minister for Agriculture Mahendra Reddy in Legalega yesterday, as a precautionary measure undertaken by the Ministry to help the nation’s response.

Home Gardening Programme

He said: “Firstly, we will scale up our Home Gardening Programme whereby over the next 3 months, we will aim to reach all households in small towns around Fiji. In large municipalities, we will try to target at least 30 per cent of the households.

“This will mean at these large towns and cities, we will increase the number of distribution venues together with the number of packages from the previous 50 packages per venue to 150 packages per venue.

“In addition, our new Farm Support Package will aim to boost production of short-term crops by providing seeds and planting materials to farmers around Fiji,” he added.

The initiative will include the strengthening of the Ministry’s seed distribution system; whereby free seeds for short-term crops will be distributed at no cost to the farmer.

Seed distribution

Specifically, the distribution will be limited to 1/4 acre per crop whereby every farmer will be assisted with three short-term crops. The targeted crops are Taro, Cassava, Rice, Kumala, Duruka, Eggplant, Chillies, Okra, Tomatoes, Maize, Bitter gourd, Pidgeon pea, and Cowpea.

“COVID-19 is a reminder of the need to be food secure. Yes we get a reminder of these challenges each time a cyclone or natural disaster hits Fiji but COVID-19 has elevated this goal 10 times more,” Mr Reddy reiterated.

“We must work together as a nation to get serious about agriculture and our goal to be self-sufficient and resilient in the way we produce and source our food system.

These seeds and planting materials will be distributed via all Agricultural Extension Offices beginning on the 30th of March, 2020; and to access this assistance, applicants need only fill an Agriculture COVID Response Form available at all Ministry of Agriculture offices nationwide.

Seeds and planting materials

The Ministry will organise seeds and planting materials before they are delivered to distribution venues and the distribution process will happen simultaneously at all venues in the Western, Central, Northern, and Eastern Divisions over six weeks.

Mr Reddy also made a special call to the tourism sector and chefs, in particular, to use local produce in light of COVID-19 to promote locally grown fruits and vegetables.

“It’s time to put our local dishes which are prepared using local produce on your menu.

This will reduce our reliance on imported foods, make us less prone to disruptions in supply chains due to diseases such as COVID-19, maintain our foreign reserve and will improve the quality of life of our fellow Fijians,” he said.

Response package

The response package was designed on the basis for the provision of access to nutritious and healthy foods and as a direct link to increasing the nation’s food self-sufficiency, reducing the reliance on food imports and placing emphasis on restricted movement, which would promote the practicality of homegrown foods through home gardening.

Meanwhile, Mr Reddy also distributed 10,000 dalo suckers to 8 farmers in the Central Division yesterday.

With each farmer receiving 1,250 suckers to assist in their respective commercial agriculture ventures as well as to provide them food security during this global pandemic.

Feedback: maraia.vula@fijisun.com.fj

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