August 26, 2021
Picture: Minister for Agriculture Hon. Dr. Mahendra Reddy and executive management of Ministry of Agriculture with the B2RA recipients.
Twenty-one Fijians whose livelihoods were impacted by COVID-19 through loss of formal employment received a “Back to Rural Agriculture” (B2RA) toolkit set each today.
These recent farmers and budding agricultural entrepreneurs received, as a start-up, a B2RA package each which was worth $400.00 per individual, consisting of $250 worth of farming tools, $100 worth of planting materials and $50.00 cash, which can be used to procure any other needed items.
While officiating at the handing over of the kits today at the Ministry of Agriculture’s headquarters in Raiwaqa, Minister for Agriculture, Waterways and Environment Hon. Dr. Mahendra Reddy challenged these pioneering recipients to prove their worth.
“Earlier this year, we had launched a programme called B2RA. The primary objective of the programme was to assist those households who had lost jobs in the urban area and have decided to move back to the rural areas with their family and utilise their vacant land and start up a business, an agricultural business. And we decided that in the first step, we would give them small leverage by providing them with a $400.00 package.
“I want to further motivate the recipients and in other divisions participating via zoom that this is the beginning. Now go and prove yourselves, and show us, so that come later this year, next year or the next financial year, there is substance for us to come and give you another leverage to assist you to expand your agricultural enterprise,” he said.
“This is not the end. We want the total of 150 or so recipients who will be receiving the B2RA package to challenge us and say, we have proven our worth, we have proven ourselves, now can we get another leverage?
Minister Reddy also detailed some of the newly announced support programmes implemented by the Ministry which these recipients could be a part of in the future if they succeeded in their agricultural ventures through the B2RA programme.
“We believe in starting small and proving ourselves and for us to prove that this is a successful programme, you will have to prove that you are successful so that we can do justice for the next lot of recipients,” he said.
Hon. Reddy also highlighted that the programme could be included as a budgeted programme under the Ministry’s annual budgetary allocation, provided the B2RA recipients achieved tangible results and progress in their farming endeavour to support the Ministry’s stance, as the current initiative was donor-funded.
Meanwhile, speaking on behalf of the recipients, Ms. Taraivini Senirewa from Buretu Village in Tailevu, who lost her job on 30th June 2020 said the only hope she, and other’s in a similar position as she had was returning to farming.
“On behalf of the recipients here in the Central Division, we would like to say thank you, vinaka vakalevu and dhanyavaad for the Back to Rural Agriculture initiative. When we lost our jobs, we had no other thoughts, the only thought that came to mind was that we had to go back to the villages and utilise our land.
“This morning, I wouldn’t say we are lucky, I would say we are so blessed to have received these tools that we cannot afford to buy ourselves with what little we are earning now, thank you very much for this initiative and we look forward to inviting you to our farms to prove to you what we have done,” said Ms. Senirewa.
Six recipients from within the Suva/Nausori corridor received their B2RA packages in Raiwaqa today, while 13 recipients from Serua/Namosi received theirs at the Ministry of Agriculture Navua office with two recipients from Naitasiri receiving theirs at the Agriculture office in Vunidawa.
The B2RA toolkit includes one farm knife, a digging fork, one digging spade, a 20L water bucket, one Jerry Can (Water Can), an axe, one 50 meter rope, a tarpaulin set, and one set of shade cloth.