Rice farmers of Qaraniqoli Group One and Qaraniqoli Group Two in Dreketi, Macuata received hand-held tractors from the Ministry of Agriculture to assist them with their land preparation.
While handing over the hand-held tractors to the two farming clusters yesterday, Minister for Agriculture, Hon. Dr. Mahendra Reddy said the assistance was to be used to contribute towards Fiji gradually achieving self-sufficiency in rice production.
“Through such assistance, we want you to grow agriculture to become the backbone of Fiji’s economy and for this, you need to double your effort and treat farming as a business as the Ministry will be supporting you with land preparation, provision of markets and technical advice,” he said. Hon. Reddy advised farmers to plant two or three crops per year as the agro-climatic conditions in Fiji were exceptionally favourable for rice cultivation.
“There are thousands of farmers who need this kind of hand-held tractors and we want every farming cluster to get assistance such as this,” he added. Farmers also heard that 24,000 acres of land was needed to be brought under the crop to achieve 100 percent self-sufficiency for rice, with local rice production needing a major boost.
“The timing is right to involve new farmers in rice production and the Ministry will provide 30 kg (for 1acre farms) rice seeds for them to get into rice production and after that, they will grow,” said Hon. Reddy.