A new commercial farming cluster was launched at Navatusila in the by Minister of Agriculture, Waterways and Environment, the Hon. Dr Mahendra Reddy, amidst excitement by the farmers.
New farmer cluster groups registered under the successful contract farming scheme with the Fiji Agromarketing Authority through the New Valley Farmers Project of Sabeto, Nadi expressed their appreciation to the Government for providing a ready market for their commodities.
Navatusila District Representative, Mr Orisi Kubunadakai in itaukei said, he was grateful to the initiative started by New Valley as it meant that the market was now brought to their doorstep in the Nausori
He said prior to the intervention by the New Valley Farmer Project, farmers of the district had to find money to pay in the transportation of their produce to the market.
In addition, he said, there was also the risk that there produce would not be sold at the price they wanted as it was something they could not control.
However, with the scheme under New Valley, the worry for finding a market and selling it at a fixed price was now a thing of the past.
Under the Navatusila Cluster Group, 49 farmers are expected to be part of it from three villages; Mare, Nanoko and Nubutautau from the Nadroga/Navosa Province.
Leader of the Maqere Cluster in Tavua, Mr Chandra Sen said his group of 15 farmers were also brought under the same scheme for New Valley Farmers Project.
“Here there is always a market problem. Before AMA, we take our produce to the market, they say, its flooded and we don’t sell our crops.
“But with AMA, we have a ready market, so I am very happy,” Mr Sen said.
He said his members were contracted to plant Bongo chillies, peanuts, pigeon peas, and cassava because of the area they were located in was dry so they had to plant resilient crops.
Sharing their excitement, the Hon. Dr. Reddy urged the farmers to grow for the market.
“Before, you used to farm first for yourself and the surplus you sold at the market.
Today, the model we are now pushing from the Ministry of Agriculture is to grow first for the market and the surplus is what you consume at home.
“So now with the AMA in the picture, they will buy your crops at a fixed price.
That’s what contract farming is about. AMA contracts you to plant certain crops. You plant and at harvest time, AMA comes right to your doorstep to pick it up.
“You don’t even have to worry about transporting your crops, AMA will take care of all of that and pay you too at your doorstep,” the Hon Dr Reddy said.
The Hon. Dr Reddy began his three-day visit last week with farmers of Navilawa Village, Sabeto followed by the Drasa Johnson Farmer’s Cluster, in Lautoka; Nanoko Village, Navatusila; Vatia Farmers Cluster in
Tavua; and Nandhari Farmers Cluster in Ba; before concluding his visit to the West