December 2, 2020
Picture : Minister for Agriculture, Waterways and Environment, the Hon. Dr Mahendra Reddy speaks to farmers at Navilawa Village, Sabeto last week.
Plant crops in which you have skills and there is a ready market provided by exporters and Fiji Agromarketing Authority, suggested Minister for Agriculture, Waterways and Environment, the Hon. Dr Mahendra Reddy.
He made the comments while addressing farmers at Navilawa Village, Sabeto in Nadi last week (4.11.20).
The farmers were officially welcomed by the Minister for joining the successfully established and producing New Valley Farmers Cluster Group in Sabeto.
“We will only ask you to plant those crops that AMA and exporters will buy, like cassava, dalo, duruka, or bongo chillies.
“At the same time, I ask that you only plant crops that you are knowledgeable in and also a crop that’s easy, like cassava or dalo or pigeon pea” he explained to the Navilawa farmers.
The Minister said at the moment, the prices had risen for dalo as most were now bound for the export market.
He said he would not ask the farmers to plant something that they were unfamiliar with, such as celery as it would be time consuming and quite input intensive.
In addition, he advised the farmers that it would be best to concentrate on growing two to three crops on a communal level in moving towards commercial agriculture.
He said there was money to be made in agriculture, but farmers needed to treat it like a business.
“You have good land here, but you need to clear it and we will be happy to help with not only that, but also to get your land ready for planting including planting materials provision, which of course, you will need to return it back to the Ministry of Agriculture after three years’ so we can help other farmers too,” he explained.
The Hon. Dr Reddy said now that the Navilawa farmers were linked up with New Valley Farmers’ Cluster Group there were good days ahead to look forward to improve their livelihoods.
Turaga Mataqali Vitava, Petaia Lobau thanked the Hon. Minister for visiting them adding that he was the first Government Minister to do so.
“Today marks a new era for Navilawa, as you are the first Minister to visit us.
“We are grateful to hear what Government is doing, Government is doing its part and it’s a big challenge for us for us to do ours,” he said.
Mr Lobau expressed his gratitude that Navilawa was now part of the New Valley Cluster group.
Meanwhile New Valley Farmers Project Coordinator, Mr Vinesh Rai revealed that as of early last week, the Cluster sent to AMA, over 100 tonnes of commodities, as per the conditions of their contract.
“This is what contract farming is about and I am very happy to share this with you today.
“I also want to see the number of our contracted farmers for various commodities such dalo farmers, cassava farmers, increase,” Mr Rai said.