The recently announced Contractual Farming initiative of the Agricultural Marketing Authority is receiving positive feedback through growing farmer interest.
Yesterday in Kavanagasau, Sigatoka eleven farmers signed contracts with the AMA, committing 39.5 acres of their land for the planting of cassava, duruka, eggplants and chillies.
The newly contracted farmers, who are from Kavanagasau and neighbouring Nabitu, are existing farmers, and have signed up with the AMA to compliment their produce and earn much needed income for themselves.
While launching the Kavanagasau Salad Bowl Farmers Cluster, and presiding over the contract signing, Minister for Agriculture Dr. Mahendra Reddy said the agriculture sector was an integral part of the Fijian economy and farmers had the potential to leverage it to its rightful place.
“We need to grow the agriculture sector, we can’t always invest in the same 100 farmers and in order to grow the sector, we need to encourage more participation from farmers, increasing genuine farmer numbers by the thousands and more,” said Minister.
He elaborated over the last eight weeks, momentum had been gained in terms of mobilizing the household sector to practice home gardening, bringing the small available land around ordinary Fijian households into farming.
Reddy highlighted the Ministry distributed over 36,000 home gardening packages containing seeds of 6-12 different crops, ensuring access to food of acceptable quality and nutritional value.
“I want to thank the entire household sector in Fiji for joining the Ministry of Agriculture in this journey to mobilize them to get the vacant land around their home into production.”
The newly contracted Kavanagasau Salad Bowl Farmers Cluster were also challenged to grow as an enterprise, and to effectively contribute towards ensuring the agriculture sector became the backbone of Fiji’s economy.
Speaking on behalf of the Kavanagasau Salad Bowl Farmers Cluster, Joseph Hill acknowledged the commitment shown by the Ministry of Agriculture and the AMA, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We are very thankful that we have been provided with seeds and cuttings at no cost, we are really thankful for this,” said Mr. Hill.
“This initiative is a welcome one for us farmers because we now have opportunities that we didn’t have before,” he said.
The Contractual Farming initiative provides farmers a formal commitment for the purchase of their produce and eliminates the worry they previously had regarding the sale of their produce.