Agricultural production in major farming areas has experienced continued growth due to Government’s commitment towards improving drainage projects in the country.
This was relayed by Minister for Agriculture, Rural and Maritime Development, Waterways and Environment, Dr. Mahendra Reddy while visiting drainage projects at Neikilikoso in Macuata during his most recent tour to the Northern Division.
Minister Reddy acknowledged the determination set by his respective Ministry portfolios in delivering service to rural communities, particularly in farming communities, attributing the increased agricultural activity and production to the resolve and dedication of Government to ensuring equal development opportunities.
“We’re now targeting, and have earmarked the Northern Division to become the major supplier of agricultural produce for current and emerging export markets,” he said.
In highlighting the potential and contribution farmers had on the agriculture sector, Minister Reddy emphasized the waterways service rendered by the Ministry subsidized financial costs substantially on farms, effectively contributing towards commercial agriculture, and having a rippling effect towards the national economy.
Minister Reddy reiterated that securing the market would no longer be a cause for concern for farmers as crops would be purchased at their farm gates stating; “Farmers need not worry about the market since Fiji Rice Limited is willing to buy both dry and wet rice and Agricultural Marketing Authority (AMA) as well for other high-value cash crops.”
Farmers were also encouraged to grow other high-value crops such as duruka, pulses, and cassava, as Australia looked to be a promising market to export these crops.
Meanwhile for 65-year-old crop farmer, Alikisa Raigu, there was an increase in farm production as Government services were delivered on request.
“A few months ago the Waterways Minister Dr Reddy made his first visit to this area and we the farmers requested for farm drainage on our farms and we were promised that the drainage work will be done,” he said.
“Prior to the construction and maintenance of the farm drains, we were having difficulty in the agricultural production as most of the crops were damaged due to waterlogging and during heavy rains, this resulted in the decline of our farm production,” Raigu said.
He acknowledged the Government’s intervention, through the Ministry of Waterways and Environment, who delivered on their commitment to ensure farmers’ livelihoods were protected.
“This Government made a promise and they delivered it on time to the farmers, we all are glad that as rural communities, we are not forgotten and are still on Government’s priority list, we thank the Government of the day for keeping rural communities in mind.