Reddy: Rice Industry is Important in Fiji
The revitalization of the rice industry continues to be a priority of the Ministry of Agriculture in its ongoing efforts to improve efficient production through continued research for a self-sufficient and sustainable rice industry.
This was highlighted by the Minister for Agriculture, Rural and Maritime Development, Waterways and Environment Mahendra Reddy while addressing the Naselai Rice Farmers Group in Naselai, Tailevu during his two-day Central Division Tour.
Reddy said strategies to ensure a revived and strengthened rice industry was in progress by the Ministry of Agriculture, some of which included the introduction of high yielding improved rice varieties in Fiji, increasing the capacity of the Ministry’s Research Division and continued production and supply of more certified seed and planting materials to farmers.
He also highlighted planned strategies for the commercialization of the rice industry, which would require close collaboration between the Ministry of Agriculture, rice farmers and stakeholders.
“Rice farming can be labor intensive, hence the Ministry continues to mechanize many of the husbandry practices, including providing access to various types of rice machines which were available to farmers on subsidized rates and the formation of rice clusters where possible to achieve economies of scale which ensure machine optimization,” said Reddy.
“The Ministry will also consolidate rice development in areas where land improvement and irrigation work is carried out and will focus on rice breeding and promotion programs which involves research and seed production of quality rice seeds which will be supplied to the farmers for better yields,” he added.
While responding to issues and questions raised by the Naselai Rice Farmers Group, Reddy clarified the Ministry’s plans for the industry, as the foundations and ground work had already been initiated.
Naselai Rice Farmers Group currently consists of 9 members who plant rice mainly for food security and are also supplying rice for their market.