June 18, 2021

Picture: Minister for Agriculture, Waterways and Environment Hon. Dr. Mahendra Reddy addresses the 42nd Session of FAO Conference.

The Fijian Government is looking at other alternatives and the best way forward to build a more sustainable and resilient food system in light of the current pandemic and climate-related shocks.

This was highlighted by the Minister for Agriculture, Waterways and Environment Hon. Dr. Mahendra Reddy while presenting Fiji’s statement during the virtual 42nd Session of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Conference on the Review of State of Food and Agriculture: Agriculture Food Systems, Transformation from Strategy to Action last night.

“In response to COVID 19, Fiji through the Ministry of Agriculture has designed an Agriculture Growth and Expansion Plan focusing on initiatives to support priorities of the Agriculture five year Strategic Development Plan (2019-2023),” said Hon. Reddy.

Minister Reddy said the plan included long term food and nutrition security through the distribution of seeds and seedlings to rural and urban communities, supporting commercial agriculture ventures through investment promotion, construction and upgrade of farm roads to create market access,  and establishing nursery and orchards to ensure a sustainable and extensive seed bank.

“Progressively, the plan focuses on expanding agriculture to its full potential to raise national income and become the leading export earner for the country and at the same time addresses key objectives of improving rural livelihoods.

He also elaborated on the series of policies and initiatives which were formulated to bolster agricultural output and growth. “These strategies realize Agriculture’s aspiration to “Grow Beyond” targeting incremental growth and spearheading a paradigm shift in Agriculture.

“This was evident in the total gross volume and value of Agriculture Production of 2020 which increased by 5.6% and 2.9% respectively as compared to 2019. Fiji acknowledges the importance of a multi-sectoral approach which will ensure increased production, elimination of multi-dimensional vulnerabilities and mitigation of shocks.”

Hon. Reddy said Fiji recognized that through FAO’s partnership, design and implementation of comprehensive programs and coherent public policies, the achievement of the outcome of the “four betters” that will reflect an interconnected economic, social and environmental dimensions of Agri-food systems would be addressed.

“Fiji’s food systems approach facilitates the identification of leverage points along the continuum from production to consumption,” he said.

He further stressed that the approach also required that different sectors work together to push for transformations of different parts of the food systems.

“As food security cannot only be addressed as an agricultural issue, obesity, overweight or anaemia cannot be seen as a mere health problem. As such, Fiji is vigorously pursuing finalization of the National Policy on Food and Nutrition Security aimed at bringing together multi-sectorial players within the Government to prioritize and coordinate interventions that will ensure a sustainable and healthy food system,” he said. 

Minister Reddy accentuated the steps taken by Fiji via the organizing of national dialogues on the five Action Tracks of the upcoming UN Food Systems Summit scheduled for September 2021 stating that at the completion of these national dialogues, the participation of 580 interested participants was recorded from different sectors throughout the country such as Government officials, NGO’s and Civil Society Organizations, external and bilateral partners, community leaders, academics, food processors and farmers.

Fiji has invested more than F$300m through Annual Budget Allocation on Fiji’s Agriculture sector, with the vision of establishing a Sustainable, Competitive and Resilient Agriculture Industry that will create an enabling environment for economic opportunities, climatic viability and food and nutrition security for all Fijians.