December 7, 2020
Picture : Minister for Agriculture Waterways and Environment the Hon Dr Mahendra Reddy hands over keys to the tractor to Vitilevu Bay Cooperative President Mr Kama.
An exciting day for the members of the Vitilevu Bay Cooperative in Madhuvani, Rakiraki after Government officially handed over the first of six tractors to the group on Sunday (6.12.20).
In handing over the tractor to the group, Minister for Agriculture, Waterways and Environment, the Hon. Dr Mahendra Reddy congratulated the newly registered Cooperative for the major achievement.
“I look forward to seeing rice production numbers increasing in this area as this will resolve the issue of no tractor after paying for the service.
“I am very excited about this handover and I know the output from your Cooperative, collectively will certainly grow, with this new tractor.
“It is by God’s grace you have earned it, it was not given free,” he said.
The assistance was made possible through the one-third contribution between Government and the farmer groups.
Hon. Dr Reddy also thanked the donor who recently handed over the tractors to Government that allowed for the event at Madhuvani to take place thus greatly easing some of the burden off the shoulders off the Ministry.
The Minister said gestures such as this would assist in realizing the Ministry’s objective of not only securing food security for all Fijians but also contribute to expanding commercial agriculture where farmers grow for the market.
He said Fiji spent an annual of approximately $40m importing rice from Vietnam and Thailand and the tractor handover was one of the measures the Ministry of Agriculture was implementing to eventually result in reducing this significant import bill.
“We are at the moment operating at 16 per cent self-sufficiency, we need to gradually move towards 100per cent.”
“We have the climatic conditions, we have the land, we have the technology, we need to increase our production and this handover will certainly assist in doing that,” he said.
Hon. Dr Reddy said rice was an easy crop to grow that only required land, rain, labour and took three to four months before harvesting.
He implored the Cooperative to look after the machine well so that it would last long.
Vitilevu Bay Cooperative President, Mr Kamal Roy said they were excited to receive the tractor as they no longer had to wait for the Ministry.
“We promise that we can save the $40m from importing rice.
“Now we can produce more rice, our work will be done quickly because like the challenge we hear from Ba where they say Ba toh Ba hai! This time its Ra toh Ra Hai!” he said.
Mr. Roy said he always encouraged his members not to sit around and instead work the land and plant more rice.
He thanked the Minister for the tractor they received.
The Vitilevu Bay Cooperative has 13 active members who have a combined land area of 150 acres, of which 60per cent is used for rice production, 20per cent for crops, and ten per cent for sugarcane farming.