Fifteen farmers of Sabeto, Nadi have become the pioneering group of the recently introduced Contractual Farming initiative of the Agricultural Marketing Authority (AMA).
These farmers yesterday signed contractual agreements with the AMA to provide them with the quantity of the required produce, and the intervals at which the produce would be required at.
As part of the contract agreement, a determined pricing range that will be paid to the farmers along with the AMA’s and farmers obligations are also stipulated in it.
In announcing the contract signing, Minister for Agriculture, Dr. Mahendra Reddy said it was a historic day as farmers would now be contracted, therefore treating farming as a business, the first step towards making agriculture a billion dollar export industry.
He highlighted the role of AMA, which was to secure local and international markets, ensure a consistent volume of supply, and to guarantee the quality of the required produce.
Minister Reddy also invited investors to consider agriculture as a viable business opportunity. “There is no better time to invest in agriculture than now,” Minister Reddy said. “If there is anything good that has come out of COVID–19, it has renewed our interest in agriculture, mobilized the entire country to get into agriculture, re-energize everyone that this is where the money is and that this is the future of this country,” said Minister Reddy.”
He also highlighted the overwhelming response from members of the public in recently announced agricultural initiatives.
“Two weeks ago, every day from 7.00am, there was a long line of people in front of our Raiwaqa Agriculture Office, people were waiting for their home gardening packages. That is the level of interest generated amongst our people.” “We are here, and ready to support you.
The only prerequisite is that it must be a commercial business model,” he explained. “We are also calling out to all organizations, institutions, commercial agricultural enterprises and potential agriculture enterprises to come forward and support the Ministry,” he urged.
“There can be no better investment than in the proposed, market-driven commercial agriculture venture, serving the dual purpose of food and nutritional security and to expand agriculture to become the main exporter for this country.”
Meanwhile, speaking on behalf of the Sabeto farmers, Mr. Sunil Prasad thanked the Ministry of Agriculture and the Agricultural Marketing Authority for their support in getting farmers to be a part of the contractual farming initiative.
“For me, this is history, I am now 60-years-old and we are here today to sign a contract to supply to the AMA. I am very thankful to the Minister Hon. Mahendra Reddy for his support for us and I believe that this will only benefit us farmers in the long run,” said Mr. Prasad.