More than 2,000 Agricultural COVID-19 Response Packages have been distributed to households in the country as part of the Government’s effort to ensure access to adequate food of acceptable quality and nutritional value. 

This follows the announcement made by the Minister for
Agriculture Hon. Dr. Mahendra Reddy on 18th March 2020, on the
Ministry’s upscaling of initiatives as a direct response in light of the
COVID-19 pandemic and as part of the first phase of the initiative saw the
distribution of more than 2,000 packages for Home Gardening and 200 packages
for the Farm Support initiative.

Head of Agricultural Operations and Services Dr.
Vinesh Kumar said the Ministry was working on assisting Fijians have access to
adequate food of acceptable quality and nutritional value during this global
pandemic.

“The Ministry has begun with the distribution of these
packages, and this includes 12 commodities for our Home Gardening packages and
14 for our Farm Support initiative, for which farmers have the option of
choosing three from,” he said.

The Home Gardening initiative aims to provide home
gardening packages to households in small towns and large municipalities.

“In
this first round we are upscaling our home gardening targeting 5,000 households
in urban and peri-urban communities and as of the 1st stage, we have
distributed a total of 2,000 home gardening packages to the four divisions,” he
said.

“For those that missed out in this phase of seed
package distribution, we assure you that the second phase will begin within two
weeks as the Ministry aims to support and ensure all households have adequate
food as a precautionary measure,” he said.

The
Farm Support program, which aims to boost the production of short-term crops on
farms around Fiji is also being distributed.

“The distribution will be limited to 1/4 acre per crop
whereby every farmer will be assisted with one [1] short-term crop for Farm
Support in the first round, to a max of  three rounds  whilst
 for Home Gardening program the person should have at least 49 square
meters of land.”

“We are also distributing Farm Support packages and
the distributing officers are working on distributing at no cost to the
farmers,” added Mr. Kumar.

The initiative will strengthen the national
agriculture production to ensure self-sufficiency and resilience of the Fijian
food system.

The distribution activities are supported by
the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), under the
Pro-Resilient Fiji program funded by the European Union (EU), in the Ra
province with the in-kind contribution of seedlings, planting material and
logistic support to 1,800 beneficiaries in ten communities.

The
response package was designed on the basis for the provision of access to
nutritious and healthy foods and as a direct link to increasing the nation’s
food self-sufficiency, reducing the reliance on food imports and placing
emphasis on restricted movement, which would promote the practicality of
homegrown foods through home gardening. 

Also, the Ministry of Agriculture distributed a total
of seventeen seed packages to institutions identified by the Ministry of Women,
Children & Poverty Alleviation.

Pearce Home officer-in-charge Ruci Kava said the
institute was grateful to the Ministry of Agriculture for the timely
assistance.

“These senior citizens are vulnerable to this COVID-19
pandemic and with this assistance, it will enable us to access food that is
from our backyard thus being able to practice
social distancing in limiting contact with other people,” said Ms. Kava.

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