Media Release: Fiji Crop and Livestock Council?
Working closely with key stakeholders associated with the agricultural industry a Farm Management Manual is being produced as a ?living? document that will ?essentially target investment for better returns on crops and livestock.?
The manual provides stakeholder?s detailed information on production specifications to make a farm successful and to compare these with actual farm performance. It shows farmers what is required to be more successful – it is essentially a guide for better farming efficiency, said the Farm Management Manual editor, Simon Cole.
?Because it has been designed, using interlinked spread sheets, it can easily be kept up to date which allows it to be used in a number of different ways. Previous documents, because of their structure, have become outdated over time, he said.
The Manual is also designed as a tool for ?access to finance? where different scenarios of production and income can be explored to test the impact of changes in price, yields and costs on the viability of the overall farm project.
This is achieved through traditional crop margin analysis automatically incorporated into a full investment appraisal. These are the documents required by the banks to assess a project for funding.? ?By linking the technical inputs to the financial outputs we are making the budgeting and appraisal process highly flexible and much easier to operate.? Mr. Cole said.
Of significance is its use to provide important ?current? information for crop insurance and crop rehabilitation following disasters. Because of the lack of this vital information the industry presently cannot attract insurance or identify the necessary costs to rehabilitate farms following a disaster.
It will also include non-financial aspects of agriculture. Among these are a better understanding of marketing opportunities and risks, of soil and climatic requirements, information on acceptable crop standards, and of husbandry techniques to maximize potential worth.
The Manual is being developed in consultation with the key stakeholders that includes farmers, bankers, educators, government officials, NGOs, those with a ?hands-on relationship with the industry.?
?Most importantly we are working with our farmers, through the Fiji Crop & Livestock Council (FCLC), to ensure actual Fiji data is incorporated into the spreadsheets.? The FCLC is comprised of all major agricultural associations that have been created to address the needs of the estimated 30,000 farmers in the country.
?The strength of the FCLC is that it has access to the farmers who are actually growing the crops and through their expertise we will have a much more accurate picture of farm costs and yields. Unfortunately, historically we have been too optimistic,? said Mr. Cole.
The Manual is being designed and edited in Fiji and is financed through the International Trade Centre, Fiji – Improvement of Key Assistance to Agriculture project, funded by the EU through the Accompanying Measure for the Sugar Protocol.