A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA), Agricultural Marketing Authority (AMA) and the Fiji National Provident Fund (FNPF) in making farmers and cluster members, the members of the FNPF Voluntary Membership Scheme.
While officiating at the signing at the MOA conference room this morning, the Minister for Agriculture, Waterways and Environment Hon. Dr Mahendra Reddy said this is a milestone achievement towards making every farmer a member of FNPF to ensure they are socially and financially secured when they retire.
“Today’s official signing marks the beginning of a new chapter to the lives of our hardworking farmers, individual household members, and the wider rural farming communities all over Fiji,” said Dr. Reddy.
Minister Reddy said the initiative will bring relevant stakeholders like FNPF and AMA together in a more coordinated and organised arrangement, generating positive returns to farmers, expansion of the agriculture sector and rapid economic growth of our beloved nation.
“Following Cyclone Harold and COVID-19 pandemic, whereby the members benefitted 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.
“The signing will assist us in education and awareness of the FNPF through the Ministry of Agriculture and AMA. The staff will ensure that correct data is provided to make these farmers members of the social security institution.”
During the past weeks, the Ministry has been working closely with AMA through the Contractual Farming Initiative with the aim to leverage the agriculture sector towards becoming the country’s leading economic sector.
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 MoA support will continue to encourage farmers/suppliers to become voluntary members.”
“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.
Minister Reddy added that the signing aims to boost agri-business potential and actively promote agriculture-led economic growth through the establishment of large commercial ventures.
“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.
The Chief Executive Officer of FNPF Mr. Jaoji Koroi said the agriculture sector is a key part of the economy and this has become quite clear over the past few months while the nation has been dealing with COVID-19 pandemic and the closure of our borders.
He said this partnership between FNPF, MoA and AMA will see farmers not only contributing to food security at a national level but they will be able to build up their savings for their own future.