Fiji Rice Limited has fully utilized the $150k set aside for the Rice Rehabilitation Program for farmers in the Northern Division following the devastation caused by TC Yasa.Fiji Rice Chairman, Mr Raj Sharma said the money paid for land preparation.
“I’m quite pleased to say the maximum amount of money given has been fully used. Which means 2,000 acres of land has been prepared.“An additional 1,000 acres of land has also been prepared, I’m told and I must thank the Hon. Minister for Agriculture and the Attorney General. This was decided over the phone in five minutes, thank you very much Minister,” he said.Mr Sharma said that was the level of commitment that Government and Fiji Rice Limited had for farmers.
He thanked Government for assisting Fiji Rice invest in its mills, which now had a capacity to produce ten tonnes of rice daily, however, the company was only utilizing 25per cent of its total capacity at the moment.
He reiterated the message by Minister for Agriculture, Waterways and Environment, the Hon. Dr Mahendra Reddy where he urged farmers to grow rice for food security and reduce the high import bill of $40m spent annually, while officiating at the Rice Field Day at Assistant Minister, Hon. Viam Pillay’s farm in Moto, Ba last week.
“If all the farmers in Ba; 3,900 farmers plant rice in 100 days you will get $1.56m net profit. This is the level of commitment we can do for you. You just have to spare one acre of land to plant rice.
“Today, is an example of ‘We Rice Up’ meaning, let us plant rice. Please plant for yourself and plant to feed the country,” he said.Minister Reddy said Fiji Rice paid the highest price to farmers for their rice.He said the company was an important stakeholder for the Ministry as it milled all of Fiji’s rice that came from the formal sector.
He also acknowledged the strides made by Mr Sharma in assisting sugarcane farmers diversify into rice farming as well in his capacity as CEO of the Sugarcane Growers Fund.
In addition, the Minister said it was also important that farmers were aware that Mr Sharma was also Chairman of Food Processors, in case they needed to sell their agriculture produce to the company.