In a first, FCLC in coordination with the Ministry of Agriculture and supported by CTA/PIFON hosted a major workshop that featured its top leaders and members from its 14 commodity associations in a two-day event held recently at the Southern Cross Hotel in Suva.
With Chief Guest, the Minister for Agriculture – Dr. Mahendra Reddy as well as representatives from diplomatic missions, funding agencies, NGOs and others associated with the agricultural industry, it was an opportunity to explore the challenges faced by farmers, “an eye opener for those in attendance” according to Chairman of FCLC, Simon Cole.
FCLC is comprised of 14 associations with 33,000 registered members. . FCLC was created in 2010 by Government to focus on developing agriculture with greater emphasis on business.
The associations continue to grow with Dairy and Spice recently joining FCLC. Pigs, Yaqona, Grazing Livestock, Dalo, Cocoa, Ginger, Rice, Beekeepers, Fruit and Vegetable, Organics, Copra, and Fiji Food Exporter Association make up the remaining twelve.
In his speech the Minister told farmers that they should identify with the entire value chain. He said that the associations should organise the demand side and let the market signals encourage new farmers to enter the industry, and that they should see agriculture as a business. It is these farmers who will respond to market signals,” Dr Reddy said.
At the workshop each of the associations were given time to provide updates on latest developments in each of their commodities they represented.
“I think their presentations showed just how advanced many farmers are. It illustrated how the Council needed to focus on the “frontier of intensification – the farmers who want to take that next step into becoming more commercial, more dynamic, and added that FCLC was structured to encourage agriculture as a business and is working with Government to achieve this,” said Cole.
The workshop was organized by FCLC CEO Jiu Daunivalu who put strong emphasis on the association of farmers to understand the agriculture policies, rules and programmes in both the first day workshop and the second day set aside for governance, management and performance of the farmers’ associations and annual general meeting.
“This has been a tremendous starting point in bringing not only the farmers to the workshop but those who can help make a difference through funding and information. Much will come out of this,” she said.