June 10, 2021

Picture: Farmers lined up to register for the Cash for Cultivation program.

As of earlier this week, more than 5,000 farmers have registered with 983 applications approved for the second phase of the ‘Cash for Cultivation’ programme so far under the Ministry of Agriculture and in partnership with the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA).

The roll-out which had begun last week ended this week and as of close of business on Tuesday (8.6.21), 5,406 farmers were registered. Ministry of Agriculture, Permanent Secretary, Mr Ritesh Dass explained the breakdown of the Divisions of where the 983 applications that were approved were located.

“From the Central Division 408 farmers have been approved, from the West, 358 farmers will receive the assistance, from the North, 20 and from the Eastern Division, 197 farmers. This means, that these 983 farmers have been approved to receive their first tranche payment. So far, 36 farmers have been approved to receive to their second tranche,” he said.

Mr Dass said Agriculture officers had so far conducted 1,217 verification exercises based on the information given by farmers. Attending the registration exercise at Dravo on Tuesday (8.6.21) was farmer from Waicoka, Bau, Mr Taniela Vuli, 29, who explained in i-taukei, that he and other farmers arrived early in the morning to ensure they registered after seeing how busy the Nausori Agriculture Office was last week.

He said he was glad that the decision was made to register farmers by Districts, hence it was Bau and Dravo’s turn that Tuesday.

Mr Vuli said the process was efficient and completed quickly, and he was happy. He had already applied for other assistance from the Ministry like planting materials but it was the first time he was applying for the ‘Cash for Cultivation’ programme.

Attending the registration exercise at Nakaikoga Primary School in Rewa, was Mr Sikeli Bukarau, from Naselai, Rewa and residing in Sawarua, Lokia.

Also speaking in i-taukei, Mr Bukarau said the entire process was smooth and fast, with the service also commendable, compared to Nausori where there was a long line of people.

He said he would take the form home, complete it and return it. It was his first time to seek assistance from the Ministry.

In announcing the assistance recently, Minister for Agriculture, Waterways and Environment, Hon. Dr. Mahendra Reddy explained when farmers registered their interest, Agriculture officers would then visit and examine the farmers’ one-acre piece of land, which would be used to cultivate either vegetables or root crops.

When the verification of the land was completed, a first tranche payment of $75.00 would be facilitated through ADRA to help the farmer prepare and cultivate the new field. 

Following the completion of the exercise, ADRA and Agriculture officials would again monitor the progress and evaluate the farming activity before the farmer was paid the balance of $125.00 as part of the second tranche payment.