The agriculture sector’s integral role in broadening the country’s economic base was emphasized to senior and middle managers of the Ministry of Agriculture today.
While opening the Ministry’s Costed Operational Plan (COP) workshop at Tokatoka Resort in Nadi, Minister for Agriculture, Rural and Maritime Development and National Disaster Management and Meteorological Services, Inia Seruiratu reiterated the need to effectively utilize the Ministry’s 2018-2019 budgetary allocation to realize the full potential of the sector.
“In 2014, we launched the 2020 Agriculture Policy Agenda that was the main document that perhaps started this new journey in which we agreed together that we needed to modernize Fiji’s agriculture sector.
“Economists continue to say and argue that Fiji needs to broaden its economic base and unfortunately there are not many options, there are not a lot of sectors that can contribute towards this intention of Government,” he said.
“We in Fiji are quite fortunate that we have the environment, we have the resources – we can do that and again I keep emphasizing that there are high expectations on the agriculture sector, so to broaden the economic base, to create employment and increase the contribution to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) everybody looks to the agriculture sector.
Seruiratu stressed the need for officers to steer the Ministry forward; “In other words, what I am trying to tell you is that everybody looks up to you because you are agriculture, we can have the best policies, frameworks, plans whatever we may call it but it’s people that will drive the sector, it’s people that will make things happen, it’s people that will bring the changes that are necessary, so I just wish to emphasize that because we cannot deal with the budget in isolation because this is just one of the many budgets, this is part of the process and this is not a short term process as things cannot happen overnight.
He added that designing a plan to enable the full implementation of the Ministry’s programmes for maximum impact and benefit was crucial.
“The COP process will ensure that we have a standard framework to measure and monitor how efficient and effective we are implementing our programmes. Our processes and systems dictates the quality of our services to our customers and the impact to the sector,” Seruiratu said.
The Ministry of Agriculture will also launch its Costed Operational Plan during the planning workshop, with an allocation of $108 million for the 2018/19 financial year, is an indication of Government’s commitment towards the Agriculture Sector.