Caption: Ten FCLC commodity associations attended the initial Farmers’ National Committee Association Planning Workshop held in Suva recently. Among other topics the meeting explored ways in which a $140,000 gift from New Caledonia Agriculture would best benefit the members. Photo: PACIFIC REACH LTD.

March 12, 2016. NEW Caledonia’s Chamber of Agriculture has contributed FJD$140,000 to its Fiji counterpart, the Fiji Crop & Livestock Council (FCLC). The donation will assist FCLC’s economic relief efforts towards its farmer members affected by Tropical Cyclone Winston.

The Deputy Head of Mission of the Embassy of France in Fiji Mr. Jules Irrmann made the official announcement at the Farmers’ National Committee Association Planning Workshop that was held at the Southern Cross Hotel in Suva on 10th March.

FCLC Chairman Simon Cole said the monetary donation by the Chambre d’agriculture de Nouvelle-Calédonie couldn’t have come at a better time.

“We are really pleased to hear from the farmers association in New Caledonia that they would like to contribute to the relief effort here through the Fiji Crop and Livestock Council. We can use this assistance to work with our associations and our farmers to help in the economic recovery of the industry. The timing is very good,” Mr. Cole said.

FCLC’s professional relationship with the Chamber began in 2015. The Council has plans to meet with members of the Chamber, which has been around for more than 70 years.

The planning workshop, which was attended by the heads of the national commodity associations, was intended to discuss how the associations were going to use their funding resources for 2016, planning processes, and the Council’s plans to assist its members.

“Cyclone Winston has come to the fore so we are using this as an opportunity for the 12 heads of commodity associations to tell us what is needed by the association members,” he said.

As a successful, long-standing agriculture organisation, Mr. Cole said the opportunity to learn from their New Caledonian partners is “welcomed and will make FCLC much stronger.”

“Also through [the Chamber] we are joining a regional network that includes New Caledonia, Vanuatu, Wallis & Futuna, Fiji, and probably Tahiti. The regional grouping of similar agriculture associations to FCLC will be able to share ideas and approaches.

“Knowing that there are other people in the region with the same ideas, challenges and opportunities that we can share with is encouraging.”

The Fiji Crop & Livestock Council is mandated by government to look after the interests of non-sugar crop and livestock farmers. The 12 commodity associations are: Dalo, Yaqona, Grazing Livestock (sheep, goats and beef), Coconut, Ginger, Cocoa, Rice, Organic, Beekeepers, Fruits and Vegetables, Pigs, and Agri-Exporters.