Six men who operate their businesses using forest based materials received value adding tools from the Minister of Forestry – Osea Naiqamu last Friday.
The Ministry of Forestry gives out Forest Subsidy Grants every year to demonstrate Government’s efforts to ensure that the sum-total of its development work is reflected in the lives of the people and communities it serves.
Minister Naiqamu said the assistance will help improve the livelihoods of the people who directly depend on Fiji’s forest resources.
“The assistance is also part of empowering all Fijians to benefit from socio economic growth opportunities from our rural to urban communities,” Minister Naiqamu said.
He added the Ministry of Forestry aims to help take Fiji’s forest sector to new heights.
“Essentially, this will include providing more focus and undivided attention towards building a much more robust and sustainable forest sector equipped to face the challenges of tomorrow.”
“This is a start of a new beginning for a new forest administration, where Fijians now have a new foundation for building a strong partnership for prosperity within the forest sector.”
Naiqamu said Government’s manifesto will continually embrace community empowerment through provision of appropriate assistance to Small Micro Enterprise such as this and identification of alternative livelihood schemes that will further increase profit margins of small income generating business such as wood carving and artifacts.
“Government is willing to elevate some of these informal sectors such as wood carving and artifacts productions to the formal sector and fully realizing the national economic contributions to Fiji Gross Domestic Product (GDP),” Naiqamu said.
Since 2017, the Ministry of Forestry together with its development partners have assisted a total of 13 wood carvers with tools and equipment worth $100,000 to lift the quality of their products to attract high value markets.
Last Friday saw Fatiaki Aisake from Suva, Josua Koroi from Wainimakutu Village in Namosi, Tevita Senilata from Naividamu Village in Fulaga, Lau, Malakai Bilitaki from Yasawa, Laisiasi Puamau from Nadi and Vijendra Prasad from Sawani in Naitasiri receive $50,000 worth of value adding tools that will assist in boosting their production and at the same time improve designs and finishing of carving products.
The Ministry of Forestry is also asking Government to continue allocating funds to assist other similar businesses in the next financial year, 2019/2020.
The Ministry of Forestry will be monitoring the six recipients’ activities closely so that the value adding machines and equipment are put to full and effective use.
“Your success will be our collective achievement and we will continue to support your training needs and empower you to keep growing,” Naiqamu said.