IDENTIFYING ISSUES, CHALLENGES, OPPORTUNITIES + DEVELOPING GOALS FOR THE FUTURE
A 2-day workshop [Organizing and Strengthening our Farmers and Farmer’s Organisations as Entrepreneurs and Partners in Agribusiness] by the Fiji Crop & Livestock Council was recently held in Suva as part of modernizing the agriculture sector [Photo: Fiji Beekeepers Association]
The agriculture sector has been, is, and will always be in transition, and agriculture and agri-food systems are very complex and dynamic, as they are constantly changing, adapting and innovating in relation to the context and environment in which they operate.
A 2-day workshop by the Fiji Crop & Livestock Council was recently held at Suva’s Southern Cross Hotel in coordination with the Ministry of Agriculture and the support of CTA, the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Co-operation as well as the Pacific Island Farmers Organisation Network as part of modernizing the agriculture sector.
In his opening remarks, the honorable minister for Agriculture, Mahendra Reddy highlighted the importance of responsible and sustainable agriculture and its connection to the natural environment, ‘The Fiji brand today has been raised globally over the years thanks to Fiji Water and Fiji Rugby. It’s seen as something very pure, natural and pristine, and we need to protect this image’.
Chairman of Fiji Crop & Livestock Council, Simon Cole said it was important not to simply try to do more agriculture but to do agriculture more efficiently, ‘We need to differentiate between policies for rural development and policies for commercial agriculture, they are not the same thing and we need to be very clear – our competitors already produce efficiently and we have to keep up because only efficient farmers will only ever be commercial’.
In his presentation for Fiji Beekeepers Association, President John Caldeira shared with participants that the biggest challenge they faced was the high demand for beekeeping training, ‘We essentially have no funding for it and there needs to be a collaboration between the know-how skills of the association and the support of the Ministry of Agriculture.’
The workshop over the two days identified issues, challenges and opportunities of farmers and the farmers’ organisations. Fiji Crop & Livestock Council CEO, Jiu Daunivalu said interactions among participants were expected to assist in developing realistic goals for the future with regards to improving livelihoods, food security, nutritious and healthy systems as well as sustainable land management.
Twenty-seven-year-old Rina Leiloma, a taro farmer from Rewa said she was excited to be part of the workshop, ‘I got into farming taro two years ago and one of the challenges I’m facing is poor drainage and irrigation systems. This workshop was a good opportunity to meet other farmers and farmer organisations to learn from them and how they have resolved similar issues’.
The workshop ended with the formation of new Farmers Associations and the Annual meeting of the existing 12 Farmers’ Organisations.