CAPTION:?The Fiji Bee Association is an active council member of FCLC. ?Photos: SUPPLIED.
With the recent official launch of the Fiji Crop & Livestock Council (FCLC) and the appointment of its first CEO to its Secretariat, plans are now in place to significantly expand council membership to more effectively reach the estimated 30,000 farmers throughout Fiji.
Lavinia Kaumaitotoya FCLC?s Secretariat CEO said that a priority would be to work with the 12 member associations that make up the Council so that they are better positioned to respond to the needs of their members as membership grows.
The Council is composed of the Pig, Dairy, Beef, Sheep/Goat, Root Crop, Ginger, Kava, Honey, Fruit, Salad Vegetables and Coconut Associations, as well as Food Processors.
?It is early days in the development of FCLC and with the Secretariat now in place a major focus will be in reinforcing structures and expansion of the Associations.
?The Associations are organized to varying degrees but all of them would be enhanced with improved communications between their members, many of whom are located at significant distances from each other and the Council,? she said.
Ms. Kaumaitotoya said that to address this organizational challenge FCLC will introduce IT services and mobile-based applications that will allow farmers to interact directly with the Secretariat and their own Associations from their homes or even from the fields where they work.
?These mobile-based applications will do more.? They will allow farmers to join their Associations (and thus the FCLC) through their mobile phones.? They will allow farmers to access critical weather information, agricultural advisory and market place information.?
?Ultimately, it is about food security, it is about reducing our imports and increasing our exports.? And we can achieve this by helping the farmers increase the yield and quality of their crops and their livestock.? For the farmer, increased efficiency means increased income,? she said.
Government established FCLC in conjunction with private sector agricultural associations in July 2010.? Since then, the Council has been working closely with the Ministry of Primary Industries and stakeholders to address concerns affecting the agricultural industry.
The International Trade Centre is facilitating the development of the Fiji Crop & Livestock Council (FCLC) with funds provided by the European Union through its Improvement of Key Services to Agriculture Programme.