1.?CBUL FOCUSES ON PRODUCTION THROUGH LEASE RENEWALS -?Government is determined to contribute effectively to economic growth and development through greater focus on the renewal of more than 2000 expired Agricultural Landlord and Tenant Act (ALTA) leases this year.
2.?FSC MAKES MILLIONS FROM ENERGY SUPPLIED TO LABASA -?The Fiji Sugar Corporation (FSC) has received around $2.5million from selling energy (electricity) produced by its sugar mill in Siberia Labasa to the Fiji Electricity Authority.
3.?FIJI SUGAR MILLS UNDER MAINTENANCE -?Fiji?s four sugar mills are currently undergoing maintenance works worth $20million to ensure efficiency for the next crushing season in June this year.
4.?FIJI CHAIRS JOINT MEETING OF EXECUTIVE BOARDS OF UN SYSTEM -?The afternoon session of 2014 joint meeting of the executive boards of UNDP, UNFPA, UNOPS, UNICEF, UN-Women and WFP met in New York this week and was chaired by Fiji’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Peter Thomson.
5.?EQUIPMENT TO BOOST MATERNAL HEALTH SERVICES?-?The Ministry of Health received two Cardio Toco Graphy (CTG) scan machines worth $40,000 from the Hibiscus Event Group today.
6.?ENGINEER TALKS ABOUT THE IMPACTS OF SOLAR ELECTRIFICATION -?Six months of commissioning the solar electrification at Nabouono Village, Udu Point in Macuata has generated numerous benefits for villagers.
7.?NABOUONO CHAMPIONS VIOLENCE FREE INITIATIVE -?Nabouono Village is the latest beneficiary of the violence free community initiative by the Ministry of Social Welfare, Women and Poverty Alleviation.
8.?GREATER RECOGNITION FOR PEOPLE WITH DISABILITY : MINISTER LUVENI -?People with disabilities will have more opportunities to undergo training and find employment with the new revised legislation to address disability and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability.
9.?TELECOMMUNICATIONS LINK RESTORED AT VATOA -?Telecommunications link to the remote island of Vatoa in the Lau group was recently restored by Telecom Fiji Limited after five months off the network.
1.?CBUL FOCUSES ON PRODUCTION THROUGH LEASE RENEWALS
Government is determined to contribute effectively to economic growth and development through greater focus on the renewal of more than 2000 expired Agricultural Landlord and Tenant Act (ALTA) leases this year.
The National Committee on Better Utilisation of Land (NCBUL) had its first meeting for the new year yesterday and focused on increasing production for ALTA leases and security of tenure for leaseholders in addressing productivity in the country.
NCBUL chair and the Ministry of Rural & Maritime Development and National Disaster Management permanent secretary, Filipe Alifereti said the committee is looking at renewing more than 2000 ALTA leases in 2014 with majority of such leases in the Western Division.
A budget of $6.4million has been set aside by Government to cater for the programme.
Mr Alifereti added that the committee will be working closely with landowners, land users and stakeholders in other areas such as in building support capacity for farmers; increased competence of farmers; innovativeness and sustainability.
The committee is hopeful that landowners and land users will respond positively to the call of ensuring that leases renewed are brought to productive use.
2.?FSC MAKES MILLIONS FROM ENERGY SUPPLIED TO LABASA
The Fiji Sugar Corporation (FSC) has received around $2.5million from selling energy (electricity) produced by its sugar mill in Siberia Labasa to the Fiji Electricity Authority.
FSC executive chairman, Abdul Khan said this was FSC?s first partnership with FEA to supply electricity from the mill to the whole of Labasa area.
?We have invested a lot in the production of electricity in Labasa and the investment is slowly paying back,? Mr Khan said.
?$2.5m for the first year is a good start but we (FEA and FSC) continue to look into ways of improving the product to ensure there are no breakdowns or power cuts in the town.?
FSC had initially invested $18m in setting the facility for electricity generation which has helped FEA in reducing its fuel bill.
Previously, FEA spent about $13m annually on fuel for the generation of electricity in Labasa.
FEA chief executive officer Hasmukh Patel said through its power purchase agreement, they were expecting their fuel cost to decrease substantially.
“We were spending about $13m annually to buy fuel to supply electricity to consumers in Labasa and we have seen a huge reduction on our reliance on fuel for electricity,” Mr Patel said.
2013 was the first year that FSC supplied electricity to FEA for the whole year including during the non ? crushing season.
Mr Khan said a new turbine had been dispatched to the mill to improve productivity.
3.?FIJI SUGAR MILLS UNDER MAINTENANCE
Fiji?s four sugar mills are currently undergoing maintenance works worth $20million to ensure efficiency for the next crushing season in June this year.
Fiji Sugar Corporation executive chairman, Abdul Khan said the corporation continues to upgrade its current machines which have been in use for many decades.
?Some of the machines and equipment that we have are very old; decade?s maybe and we need to constantly work towards replacing them with new ones,? Mr Khan said.
?The maintenance work is done annually and with Government committed towards ensuring that all cane planted are crushed, FSC needs to ensure that mills are efficient during the crushing season to be fair to the farmers and the Government.?
With more than 200,000 Fijians? lives dependant on the sugar industry, Mr Khan said the role played by FSC is huge in achieving this commitment.
Mr Khan also highlighted major renovation plans for the Penang Mill in Rakiraki due to its deteriorating conditions.
?The mill in Rakiraki is very old and has old machines. Right now we are looking at either completely overhauling the mill or constructing a new one,? he added.
Prime Minister and Minister for Sugar Voreqe Bainimarama last year said smaller mills were likely the way forward and a feasibility study was being carried out.
?The study noted that either the Penang mill be completely overhauled, rebuilt or more mills built equivalent to the size of the Penang mill.?
These mills are likely to be built in Tavua and Ba.
4.?FIJI CHAIRS JOINT MEETING OF EXECUTIVE BOARDS OF UN SYSTEM
The afternoon session of 2014 joint meeting of the executive boards of UNDP, UNFPA, UNOPS, UNICEF, UN-Women and WFP met in New York this week and was chaired by Fiji’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Peter Thomson.
The annual joint meeting is convened to enable the major UN funds and programme to enhance coherence in their work.
The meeting focused on coherence of UN action against poverty and vulnerability, with emphasis on building resilience.
Ambassador Thomson emphasised the importance of the UN system delivering as one at the country level.
He reaffirmed that the United Nation accepts that eradicating poverty is the greatest global challenge and is an indispensable requirement for sustainable development in developing countries.
UNDP Administrator, Miss Helen Clark, opened the presentations by the funds and programmes.
The opening followed contributions by principals of other UN funds and programmes present, together with representatives of the Member States serving on the executive boards.
The morning session of the joint meeting focussed on performance standards of gender mainstreaming across the strategic plans of the UN funds and programmes.
The session was led by presentations from the President of the UN-Women executive board and the Executive Director of UN-Women, Ms Phumzile Ml?mbo-Ngcuka.
The session heard that gender equality and engaging women is at the forefront of the UNDP Strategic Plan and is one of the key development challenges of the organization.
UNDP (United Nations Development Programme) is the United Nations global development network. ?UNFPA (United Nations Population Fund) promotes the right of every woman, man and child to enjoy a life of health and equal opportunity. UNOPS (United Nations Office of Project Services) works with Governments and other partners to manage projects, infrastructure and procurement.
UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund) provides long-term humantarian and developmental assistance to children and mothers in developing countries. UN-Women is the United Nations organization dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women. WFP (UN’s World Food Programme) is the world’s largest humantarian agency fighting hunger.
5.?EQUIPMENT TO BOOST MATERNAL HEALTH SERVICES
The Ministry of Health received two Cardio Toco Graphy (CTG) scan machines worth $40,000 from the Hibiscus Event Group today.
Minister for Health, Dr Neil Sharma said the donation will enhance care for women and children towards maternal health and safe motherhood.
?These two machines will make a huge difference to the quality of life of babies and mothers. We will very soon have additional 220 beds for CWM with expansion starting this year. The Hibiscus Events Group has been instrumental in advocating for health and wellness over the last several years,? Dr Sharma said.
The CTG machines monitor the well being of pregnant mothers and unborn babies, fetal heartbeat and uterine contractions during pregnancy.
The machines would be instrumental in saving lives as the CTG scan will be able to detect any possible complications allowing necessary and early intervention.
This will therefore assist in reducing still born births and other pregnancy related risks.
The Health Ministry is grateful for the support shown through this private public partnership as the Hibiscus Event Group has contributed towards the improvement of health services in the country.
The hand-over of equipments was made possible through a ?donation from Carpenters Group of Companies fund raising efforts for the hibiscus charity.
6.?ENGINEER TALKS ABOUT THE IMPACTS OF SOLAR ELECTRIFICATION
Six months of commissioning the solar electrification at Nabouono Village, Udu Point in Macuata has generated numerous benefits for villagers.
?For the last 50 years and more this village depended on kerosene and candles for lights. But the implementation of solar electrification has generated numerous benefits for the community, women are now able to do their household chores easily at night like cooking breakfast for the school children,? said Marica Caginitoba a 56-year-old solar engineer who trained at Barefoot College
In 2012, the Ministry of Women and Barefoot College identified 10 women aged between 45 and 60 to undergo six months of solar electrification training at the college in Rajasthan India.
On their return these engineers had solar electrified their respective villages in Fiji.
A recent visit by officials from Ministry of Women to Nabouono Village shows that the solar electrification has positively impacted the lives of ?villagers.
?With the accessibility of lights at night, the women feel much safer in their homes and even children who attend the Udu District School are also able study for longer hours with the availability of the solar lanterns,? Mrs Caginitoba said.
?Solar lights are cost effective, safe and also environment friendly.?
Apart from solar electrifying 14 households in Nabouono Village, Mrs Caginitoba has installed solar electrification units in 34 houses at Yasawa Village. She has also trained three women and three youths in her village on solar electrification.
Each household pays $5 a month of which $2.50 goes to Mrs Caginitoba as her income while $2.50 goes to the bank account of the solar committee that looks after the maintenance of solar projects.
?My next assignment is to solar electrify Nukudamu Village and the ministry is waiting for solar equipment to arrive from India,? Mrs Caginitoba said.
?We have also submitted a canteen project proposal to the ministry for its assistance. Once we manage to put it together it will further boost the income generating projects of our women?s groups.?
The rollout of solar electrification project is a result of the partnership between the Ministry of Women and UN Women along with representatives from the Fiji Locally Managed Marine Areas Network (FLAMMA).
7.?NABOUONO CHAMPIONS VIOLENCE FREE INITIATIVE?
Nabouono Village is the latest beneficiary of the violence free community initiative by the Ministry of Social Welfare, Women and Poverty Alleviation.
Last week, a team headed by the permanent secretary Dr Josefa Koroivueta traveled for two hours to the village at the Udu point, in Macuata province.
Following the official launching of the Zero Tolerance Violence Free Community Campaign in June last year this village has successfully completed 10 phases of the campaign to qualify for the declaration stage.
This was observed through the unveiling of a billboard erected in the centre of the village .
Dr Koroivueta acknowledged the leaders in Nabouono Village for their partnership with the ministry to implement this campaign to achieve its objectives.
?The ministry is grateful to the male leaders in your community for leading the campaign. Any community that looks after its women and children will be prosperous and it will cultivate greater understanding and good communication between families for holistic development,? the permanent secretary said.
?These are the pillars on which the campaign is created and implemented. The billboard will continue to remind your present and future generation that Nabouono is committed to the vision of a violence free village.?
Thanking the government team for its third visit to Nabouono Village, turaga-ni-mataqali Ilimotama Bulisolevu said the campaign was critical in steering positive changes in the lives of his people.
?Nabouono is made up of 15 households and women play an important role in looking after their families,? Mr Bulisolevu said.
?Violence is one issue that has existed for years, it affected our women and children and we are no longer tight lipped about these things. Through this campaign we have broken the silence and have declared zero tolerance to any ill treatment against women and children.
?As a result of our networking with the Fiji Police, there is a gatekeeping committee which has been formed and it ensures that the principles of this campaign are deep rooted into the lives and hearts of the people in Nabouono.
?In every development, we prioritise women and children, their wellbeing takes precedence above everything else.
?We thank the government for giving us the opportunity to work together to improve the lives of my people. Before we hardly got any government officials visiting us but now feel we are being cared for and no longer have to live in isolation.?
Soqosoqo Vakamarama Nabouono leader Marica Caginitoba said that it was through the awareness programmes that women were now well aware about the laws protecting women and the procedures for reporting cases.
?The women have acquired information on Domestic Violence Decree, the No Drop Policy, Child Welfare Decree and are confident to report cases to the police. We all have learnt that violence be it physical or verbal is a crime and should be reported,? she said.
?After the months of training, we have begun to witness the changes in the behavior of the men, they now help women with their daily chores, like collecting firewood and even cooking. And they are also spending more time with their families, unlike before they left their families alone and went to drink grog.
?The women are also given the opportunity to speak out during the village meetings, which previously used to be male dominated.?
8.?GREATER RECOGNITION FOR PEOPLE WITH DISABILITY : MINISTER LUVENI
People with disabilities will have more opportunities to undergo training and find employment with the new revised legislation to address disability and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability.
Government had allocated $290,000 for the Fiji National Council of Disabled persons to assist those living with disability.
Minister for Social Welfare Dr Jiko Luveni said the issue of disability, this year would be a significant one for the disabled community in Fiji.
?This is in line with reviewed legislation to address disability that is consistent to the 2013 Constitution and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability,? Dr Luveni said.
?This convention will provide greater recognition to the need and voices of persons living with disabilities.?
The ministry will also address the issue of ageing in Fiji with the recently established National Council of Older Persons.
?We will provide assistance to existing institutions of care to the older persons,? Dr Luveni said.
?Supporting the creation of supportive environments for older persons for recreational purposes in public places and outsourcing specific research initiatives to address the need for evidence based solutions for older persons in Fiji.?
Dr Luveni said the ministry will be addressing social protection needs for older persons.
With the right attributes and well being to serve, Dr Luveni is adamant the ministry is well positioned to implement and achieve the outcomes planned for 2014.
9.?TELECOMMUNICATIONS LINK RESTORED AT VATOA
Telecommunications link to the remote island of Vatoa in the Lau group was recently restored by Telecom Fiji Limited after five months off the network.
The reconnection was made possible following the recent visit to the Lau group by Government officials.
Vatoa, is one of the remote islands in the Lau group with a population of more than 200 people.
Vatoa elder Mr Suka Salusalu could not resist the tears of joy while thanking the Commissioner Eastern and the Telecom Fiji Limited technicians, who were part of the recent Government team that toured the Lau group.
?For five months we are in the dark. There was no telephone communication due to some technical problem but today is indeed a joyful day, we can now talk to our sons and daughters in Suva, I must thank Government for making this trip to this remote island of Vatoa,? Mr Salusalu said.
Telecom Fiji Limited technician, Mr Jese Balenaivalu said it took them a few hours to rectify the technical problem.
?We tried our best to repair the technical problem and it took us two hours actually to reconnect Vatoa to the outside world through our satellite phone connection. The people of Vatoa were so happy of the news. It is one of the best days of their lives,? Mr Baleinavalu said.
Commissioner Eastern, Mr Netani Rika said that communication network is vital to remote islands of Fiji such as Vatoa.
?I am glad that the Telecom technicians have done a superb job and I am also glad that I had included them in the tour. I think they should always be part of future tours because communication is vital to such remote islands of Fiji.?