The Minister for Agriculture, Rural and Maritime Development, Waterways and Environment, Dr. Mahendra Reddy highlighted the importance of growth and development as catalysts for the improvement of rural livelihoods.
While officiating at the launching of the Embryo Transfer Program held at the Nacocolevu Research Station on Tuesday, Reddy said growth and development in Fiji were mostly concentrated in urban and peri-urban areas, with development opportunities arising from public sector resources oftentimes missing out interior and maritime divisions.
“The Fijian Government places a lot of emphasis on growth and development, and resource allocation to the rural and maritime divisions will make a difference in the lives of ordinary Fijians.
“Development of different sectors such as tourism and the agriculture sector plays an important role in growth and development to improve people’s livelihoods as both these sectors generally center around the interior and maritime divisions,” said Reddy.
He also highlighted that the introduction of technology would allow a rapid change in the transformation of the rural and maritime areas, with its immediate benefits to be felt by people living in these isolated divisions.
“Today we are dealing with technological introductions in agriculture which will have numerous benefits that will contribute to the rapid growth and development of the agriculture sector by improving efficiency and productivity gain.
“We’re also engaging the direct beneficiaries – stakeholders, and farming households to ensure that the returns from such development processes are realized through their engagement to improve the various factor markets,” said Reddy.
“We will continue to invest in the agriculture sector but there has to be a major philosophical change. We cannot continue to invest in farmers who only see agriculture as a leisurely activity, or those concentrating on subsistence farming only.”
The Minister advised that the Ministry would support farmers that adapt to new technologies and advice given by Agriculture Officers because developing the agriculture sector was not just for farmers but for the country as a whole.