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Susan Naidu (L) and Phyllis Danford (M) of Koroipita discuss a point with Graeme Thorpe (R) of Fiji Crop & Livestock Council
The current coronavirus pandemic is having impacts on global food systems and economies.
Fiji’s minister of agriculture, the Hon. Dr.Mahendra Reddy said the government is managing multiple demands – responding to the health crisis, managing the consequences of the shock to the economy and ensuring the smooth functioning of the food system.
“The pandemic is challenging the livelihoods of a significant extent of the population, whose income and employment are at risk due to losses in tourism and remittances, representing 34% and 5.1% of GDP respectively.”
“Up to 115,000 people have lost their jobs or reduced their hours. On the other hand, the Reserve Bank of Fiji has predicted a 21.7% contraction to the economy in the coming year.”
Dr.Mahendra Reddy said: “Vulnerability to climate change and natural hazards such as TC Harold continue to aggravate the difficulties faced during this pandemic.”
Speaking at the opening of the Fiji Farmers Forum 2020 : Seizing Opportunities today, he explained serious challenges posed by the pandemic is an opportunity to accelerate transformations in the food and agriculture sector to build resilience.
“Agriculture has always been a very challenging activity for farmers in the remote areas of Fiji; whenever markets are identified, limited market access and high cost of logistics become a hurdle for farmers.”
“Through our collaborations, contracted farmers will know exactly where their targeted produce are being sold and at what specific price.”
“The Ministry is focused in bringing the markets to farmer’s doorsteps and will continue to work closely with Exporters and all relevant stakeholders to ensure that farming is treated as a business rather than a hobby or a retirement exercise.”
Dr.Mahendra Reddy said: “The Ministry has mounted a major program of seed and planting material distribution to urban and rural households and in a very short period of time, we note surge in supply of fresh produce.”
“Of course this surge in supply locally has also been contributed by the shutdown of the tourism sector.”
“At the commercial level, we have pushed ahead with a paradigm change of growing for the market incentivized by market signals rather than government subsidies.”
Activities undertaken by Fiji’s Ministry of Agriculture including the construction of farm roads, irrigation and machinery support to farmers is part of the government’s response plan to commercializing the country’s agricultural sector.
“We’re also providing provision of planting materials, expanding the nurseries in the four divisions including market provision and market development.”
The Fiji Farmers Forum 2020 : Seizing Opportunities is funded by the Farmers’ Organizations for Africa, Caribbean and Pacific – FO4ACP Programme, a joint partnership between the European Union, Africa Caribbean and Pacific (ACP), International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and Pacific Island Farmers Organisation Network (PIFON).