Twelve members of mataqali Naivorati farmer cluster in Lomaivuna, Naitasiri have become members of the Fiji National Provident Fund’s (FNPF) Voluntary Membership Scheme.

These farmers, who had initially signed on as contractual farmers of the Agricultural Marketing Authority (AMA), now have the opportunity to build up their savings for their pension through the FNPF’s scheme after they officially became members of the superannuation fund yesterday.

While officiating at the event in Lomaivuna, Minister for Agriculture, Waterways and Environment Hon. Dr. Mahendra Reddy said it was the Government’s priority to ensure inclusive growth, an aspect of which involved making every farmer socially and financially secure before retirement.

“Regardless of your geographical location and social status, the Government’s development policy must address everyone’s concerns. Oftentimes we’d receive complaints from those living in rural communities regarding the lack of social security, and the Government has stepped up to address that concern.

“Following Cyclones Winston, Josie, Harold and the current COVID-19 pandemic, whereby the members benefited from their FNPF fund, the majority of the farmers were not eligible for these benefits because they are not members of the institution,” said Dr. Reddy.

So far the Ministry of Agriculture and the AMA have signed contracts with farmers of Nubu Farms in Nadarivatu, Naivorati Farms in Lomaivuna, Naitasiri; Sabeto Cluster Farms in Nadi, Waito Farms in Tailevu and Nataleira Cluster Initiative at Dawasamu, Tailevu.

“Given the nature of the agricultural product and its importance in securing the future for members, AMA through the Ministry’s support will continue to encourage farmers/suppliers to become voluntary members. We want all farmers to become members of the FNPF to secure your future.”

“This will ensure funds are set aside for retirement purposes. They should be able to access health, education, housing and other social benefits that are currently enjoyed by compulsory members,” said Dr. Reddy.

The Voluntary Membership Scheme is an inclusive retirement savings arrangement that targets individuals (including farmers), who have made enormous contributions towards the informal sector.

“Together we will continue to pursue the notion that being a member of the FNPF Voluntary Membership Schemes will be the way forward for our farmers/clusters while taking advantage of the significant benefits and incentives it provides,” said Dr Reddy.

Meanwhile, head of mataqali Naivorati, Mr. Tomasi Nasuikau praised the initiative as it would help secure the future of members of the mataqali.

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