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Reddy Tells Farmers: Do Not Ask For Handouts

Speaking at the opening of the Fiji Farmers Forum in Nadi, he said: “Treat agriculture as a business and do not treat the Agriculture Ministry as a bank - do not ask for handouts.”
25 Sep 2020 12:57
Reddy Tells Farmers: Do Not Ask For Handouts
Minister for Agriculture Mahendra Reddy

The Agriculture Ministry is not a bank and must not be sought after for handouts, Minister for Agriculture Mahendra Reddy said yesterday.

Speaking at the opening of the Fiji Farmers Forum in Nadi, he said: “Treat agriculture as a business and do not treat the Agriculture Ministry as a bank – do not ask for handouts.”

His remarks followed his announcement over plans to raise the annual agricultural export figures to as much as $100 million, within a turnaround timeline of two years.

 

Livestock setback

He said the livestock sector was suffering two major setbacks.

The two hindrances were the loss of original genetic attributes affecting livestock yield, and disease infection in beef and dairy cattle, he said.

Mr Reddy said the Ministry of Agriculture was working on both concerns with the realisation of higher stock numbers and progressive yields.

The ministry plans to improve farm genetic attributes in the 2020/2021 financial year, by establishing and distributing superior breeds of livestock, he said.

“This will include distribution of Senepol Bulls and Brown Swiss to identified tuberculosis-free and brucellosis-free farms, after three clear consecutive tests,” Mr Reddy said.

 

Paving opportunities

The coronavirus pandemic challenged income and employment of the tourism and remittances sectors, representing 34 per cent and 5.1 per cent of Gross Domestic Product, respectively, he said.

“Up to 115,000 people have lost their jobs or reduced their hours,” Mr Reddy said.

“Although COVID-19 has brought much vulnerabilities to the forefront, the pandemic has paved opportunities the nation needs to capitalise on.

“Whenever markets are identified, limited market access and high cost of logistics become a hurdle for farmers.

“Infrastructure plays a very critical role in advancing the ministry’s collective aspirations, especially in delivering only the best for the benefit of the sector.”

 

Mechanised farming

Mr Reddy said the Ministry of Agriculture would continue to encourage farmers to adopt mechanised farming practices that allowed tasks to be completed within a shorter time frame, reduced labor intensity, and allowed for larger areas to be cultivated to produce higher crop yields while sustaining natural resources.

“There is a limit to the extent to which we can expand the market for primary commodities,” he said.

“We now have to move towards product development.

“We are working closely with Food Processors and Agro Marketing Authority.

“We have recently launched a number of products.

“Our efforts over the last 18 months are now showing results.”

 

Non sugar exports

Over the first six months this year, Fiji’s exports of fresh and chilled produce increased by 15 per cent, from 4.9 million kilogrammes in 2019, to 5.7m kilogrammes in 2020.

“This amounts to an 11 per cent increase, from $24.1m to $26.8m from January to June this year,” Mr Reddy said.

“We could achieve an annual export figure of $60m by end of this year, but we wish to raise this to $100 million of annual exports within two years’ time.”

Feedback:  frederica.elbourne@fijisun.com.fj

 

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