Sugarcane farmers have been encouraged to complement their farm income and set aside one or two acres of land for rice production.

While opening the Rice Field Day demonstration in Nawaicoba, Nadi yesterday Minister for Agriculture, Hon. Dr Mahendra Reddy said that government was concerned with reducing the import bill for rice.“On an average, Fiji is importing $46.2m,” Minister Reddy said.

“In economic terms, we are putting pressure on our foreign reserves. $46.2m in Fiji dollars is going out of the country in foreign currency, that’s in US dollars, $20m is going out every year.

Minister Reddy said that acquiring 24,000 acres of land for rice production would be possible if 12,000 sugarcane farmers sets aside two acres of land each as this would also make the 80-90 percent self-sufficiency rate achievable.

He added that each acre of rice could produce about 1.5 tonnes of paddy grain and farmers need not worry about the market as Fiji Rice Limited would purchase rice at farm gate prices.

“At the moment the price is $800 per tonne,” Minister Reddy said.

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