Government intends to target 3,716 farmers in the next cycle of seed distribution which begins on Tuesday, 1 September 2020 till December, 2020.The announcement was made by the Minister for Agriculture, Waterways and Environment, the Hon, Dr Mahendra Reddy last week.

He said this seed distribution initiative was also to encourage farmers to allocate one acre of land or more, to growing produce to meet market demand, subject to farmers agreeing to a condition.

“The Ministry of Agriculture will provide planting materials for one acre of land or more such as seeds, seedlings or cuttings at no cost to farmers. “The only condition to farmers is that we ask that they return those materials back to us in three years’ time,” Dr Reddy said.

The Minister said the reason the Ministry requested for the planting materials to be returned was to ensure that one; other Fijians could also benefit; and to allow the Ministry to build up its stock pile.

“We hope that farmers will take a keen interest in commercial agriculture ventures.” A range of seeds would be made available from Tuesday (1.9.20) for farmers to take advantage of.

These included tomatoes, cauliflower, beans, water melons, eggplant, chillies, kumala, and maize. In addition, the Hon. Minister said papaya seedlings would also be available, however, those who wanted these needed to order in advance.

“We encourage farmers to take advantage of this program so we can expand the base of the agriculture sector.” Dr Reddy urged those who had missed out on the earlier seed distribution to make their way to their nearest Ministry of Agriculture Office on Tuesday (1.9.20) to collect their seed packages.

In addition, the Minister said there were seed packages help available too for those who had lost their jobs in the corporate sector. “If you have employees who have lost their jobs and they want to undertake gardening on a slightly larger scale than what backyard gardeners would do, then we have a special package for them.

“These packages would have more quantity of seeds,” he said. He said companies or businesses would need to send their requests to the Ministry of Agriculture with information on the number of employees who had lost their jobs and the location of the office so delivery of these special seed packages would be made to their premises.

“We encourage the household sector to take interest in gardening so you can get a supply of fresh vegetables; able to secure the health and nutrition of your family, and also reduce your household expenses,” Dr Reddy said.

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