The Ministry of Agriculture is currently reviewing the Nadarivatu Development and the Sigatoka Valley Development programs.
Earlier this year, Minister Hon. Inia Seruiratu called for a strategic review of all agriculture programs to evaluate progress and to address the challenges faced by farmers.
The review will ensure that farmers are given proper advice and encouraged to move from subsistence farming to semi commercial and commercial farming.
Principal economic planning officer, Monitoring and Evaluation, Kolianita Alfred said the review programme is the first of many earmarked for the Ministry’s programs by their new Monitoring and Evaluation Unit.
“This internal review and site visit to farmers focuses on checking progress and impact assessment to inform decisions and design remedial actions to improve delivery of programs. We are looking at our internal processes and procedures, data collection and reporting, program performance and management in general,” she said.
“We need to know whether our intervention is hitting it right and identify areas we can improve on.”
The initiative she said, is also a part of the Ministry’s attempt to align its actions to the strategic direction set out in the 2020 Agriculture Policy Development Agenda.
The Nadarivatu Development Program was introduced in 2013 with the purpose of increasing production of vegetables and potatoes so as to assist in the reduction of Fiji’s import bills.
The program was also developed to utilize potential farm lands that are partially utilized due to poor agriculture infrastructures such as farm drainages, farm access roads and marketing centers.
Agriculture officer Nadarivatua/Tavua, Perina Susu said close to 150 farmers have been directly assisted with farm road access, procurement of farm machines for ploughing and harrowing, implementation of drainage systems, assisting of planting materials and other agro inputs including fertilizers and chemical.
“Our assistance has also been in the form of organizing farmers training and field visits to other thriving farms in the Western Division,” she said.
Yaqona farmer Meli Niudamu of Naga village was happy with the assistance provided through the Nadarivatu Agriculture Program which has allowed him to plant other crops like carrots, watermelon, French bean, capsicum, zucchini, tomatoes, potatoes and agro inputs such as a pump, hose, fertilizer and seeds with a much quicker form of earning income.
He also expressed his concerns with the need for assistance in terms of providing a fixed market and a fixed transport to cart their produce.
Tomaniivi Women’s club team leader Mere Tulobe said the NDP has assisted them with a farm road access to their Nabilo farming area and also have been receiving timely advice from agriculture officers serving in Nadarivatu.
She said that the women’s group has also assisted in the development of the village by building a kitchen for the village hall from the money earned from selling their vegetables and also paying for the men’s labour costs as they work on the farms.
The Nadarivatu Development Program covers the Tikina o Nadrau (Navosa Province), Tikina o Nabobuco (Naitasiri Province) and the Tikina o Savatu (Ba Province).
The area comprises of highly potential pocket areas that can be utilized to generate employment, income and increase potential areas for agriculture commercial production to meet local and export markets.
Following their visit to Nadarivatu this week the Agriculture officials will visit Nadroga/Navosa to review the Sigatoka Development Program.