FIJI AGRICULTURE RECEIVES HAND TRACTORS TO BOOST CROP PRODUCTION

Invited guests at the official handover of the hand tractors donated by the Indonesian government.

The donation of 10 hand tractors to the Ministry of Agriculture by the Government of the Republic of Indonesia will assist in enhancing Fiji?s food security and boost crop production.

The hand tractors, valued at around $6000 each, were officially handed over to the Ministry of Agriculture?s permanent secretary Mr Ropate Ligairi by the Indonesian Advisor to the Ministry of Agriculture, Mukti Sardjono. This presentation took place at the Koronivia Research Station this week.

Mr Ligairi, while thanking the Indonesian Government for all the support it has provided to Fiji?s agriculture sector, said the assistance will go a long way in the development of the Fijian national economy.

?Over the years, we have witnessed direct assistance from Indonesia in the areas of rice production, product development and small farm machinery,? Mr Ligairi said.

The Government of Indonesia had also assisted Fiji through the engagement of a consultant last year who works at the Koronivia Research Station in the area of product development.

?This has enlightened us on opportunities that can be tapped to enhance the utilisation of additional commodities to generate income for our rural farmers or communities.

?Agriculture in Fiji is a promising industry given the rich water resources, fertile soil and high precipitation that Fiji receives. Some of the major difficulties faced by Fiji in excelling with agriculture industry include seed variety problem with lower yields and quality, plant disease, insect pest, small or large scale modernised farm, lack of technical experts and lack of mechanisation,? the permanent secretary highlighted.

Mr Ligairi added that there is a need to strengthen science and technology to improve the productivity of Fijian farmers.

?The assistance of the 10 hand tractors given to Fiji will assist farmers here to boost their productivity, develop their skills in farming and reduce their operating cost.?

Mr Sardjono said the assistance will enhance cooperation and contribute positively to agricultural development for both Fiji and Indonesia.

?Since 2003, the Government of the Republic of Indonesia has been assisting Fiji in the field of agriculture through the provision of technical assistance such as agricultural experts dispatch to Fiji, apprenticeship Fijian farmers in Indonesia and grant of agricultural machinery,? Mr Sardjono said.

The diesel engine operated hand tractors are equipped with attachments and can be used for cultivation on dry as well as boggy land.

MINFO