- WEATHER TO BE CLOSELY MONITORED IN VANUA LEVU – The Office of the Commissioner Northern is closely monitoring the weather situation in Vanua Levu.
- FARM MANUAL FOR AGRICULTURE SECTOR AND FARMERS – With the introduction of a new Fiji Farm Management Budget manual for the agriculture sector, farmers in Fiji are expected to benefit immensely from the Ministry of Agriculture’s efforts in developing and disseminating relevant information and appropriate technologies.
- MINISTRY EMBARKS ON NEW IDEAS TO INCREASE OUTREACH – In its efforts to bring its services closer to Fijians especially those in rural and remote areas, the Ministry of Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation will establish mobile units in 2015.
- MINISTRY ALLOCATES A WELFARE OFFICER FOR KADAVU – In the quest to expand the reach out of government services into outer islands, the Ministry for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation will be deploying staff to service some maritime areas.
- CELEBRATIONS TO MARK LEVUKA’S LISTING AS UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITE – Fiji’s old capital, Levuka, will celebrate one year of inscription as the country’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site later this week.
WEATHER TO BE CLOSELY MONITORED IN VANUA LEVU
The Office of the Commissioner Northern is closely monitoring the weather situation in Vanua Levu.
Acting Commissioner Northern Alipate Bolalevu said that staff from his office is on the ground and coordinating closely with the Weather Office and the National Disaster Management Office or NDMO.
Mr Bolalevu said DISMAC team is already on the ground and getting updates on the situations in the three main provinces.
“We are alerting low lying areas all around Vanua Levu to be prepared and take heed of the weather situation.”
Mr Bolalevu said he would give another brief update on Vanua Levu’s situation later tonight.
FARM MANUAL FOR AGRICULTURE SECTOR AND FARMERS
With the introduction of a new Fiji Farm Management Budget manual for the agriculture sector, farmers in Fiji are expected to benefit immensely from the Ministry of Agriculture’s efforts in developing and disseminating relevant information and appropriate technologies.
The Honorable Minister for Agriculture, Rural and Maritime Development, National Disaster Management Inia Seruiratu made the statement at the launching of the manual in Nadi last Friday (05/12/2014).
Mr Seruiratu said the manual contains both the technical and financial information for farming.
“This manual is part of our commitment to making a difference in the livelihood of the people. And it should be used as a tool by Extension Officers and farmers in the formulation of Proposed Farm Business Plans and Better Farm Plans,” Mr Seruiratu said.
“There are 61 crops and 10 livestock and fisheries commodities provided. As for the financial gross margin analysis, only 48 crops and seven livestock commodities are provided and it is expected that users will use those examples to work out commodity combination of their choices.”
He said the gross margin analysis should be used to develop Farming Systems Budgets or Whole Farm Budgets to show the profitability of different Farming Systems. This, he said, should be representative of the household income level in the different farming localities.
Mr Seruiratu added that a farmer in making the choice of crops and livestock to cultivate; must have long term security of land tenure in order to encourage investment.
“Farm plans must have long, medium and short term commodities which will help spread risks and ensure sustainability.
“The challenge is in making the right choice of commodity mix that is not only viable but sustainable in the long term and within the context of what the market opportunities will allow.
“The manual would help farmers and planners in making the right choices of investment. It is vital that farmers are aware of the changes and the existing opportunities that are shown in the manual and they should be responsive in order to reap the benefits,” Mr Seruiratu said.
Mr Seruiratu highlighted that the manual will also help the Ministry of Agriculture’s Crop and Livestock Extension in developing farming systems in Fiji that will finally result in improving total productivity and increasing Gross Domestic Product (GDP) contribution of the Agricultural Sector.
“The agricultural sector used to be the backbone of the country in the past and the biggest contributor of around 20 per cent of GDP as opposed to around 9 per cent that are seen to date,” he said.
He added that the sector has now been overtaken by the manufacturing and the tourism sectors as the biggest source of foreign exchange and employment generation in the country.
Mr Seruiratu said that poverty in rural areas is at a higher rate and there is a need to concentrate on agriculture in order to bring people out of poverty.
However, he mentioned that with the increasing rate of unemployment with over 12,000 youths entering the job market annually, Government recognizes that there is no other sector that could absorb and provide employment opportunities better than the agricultural sector.
“Government is committed to alleviating poverty and improving the livelihood of the rural people of Fiji as stipulated in the Peoples Charter and the Strategic Framework for Change,” Mr Seruiratu said.
He said according to the latest Household Income and Income Expenditure Survey (HIES) Report, most of our rural people are living below the poverty line.
“It is an anomaly that needs to be reversed given the abundance of unutilized land and untapped resources in rural Fiji. There is no poor Fijian- only lazy Fijian- and there is no reason why any rural Fijian should be cash poor. Rural people are only poor because they are treating farming as just a way of life rather than a business with clear goals and targets.”
Mr Seruiratu expressed his gratitude towards the Farm Management Section for coordinating the preparation of the Manual and all other the Divisions within the Ministry for contributing to the review of the technical and financial parts of the Fiji Farm Management Budget Manual 2014.
The Ministry will continue upgrading the manual to help improve the quality of service delivery to the rural farmers and assist in efforts to fully develop semi-commercial and commercial farmers in Fiji.
MINISTRY EMBARKS ON NEW IDEAS TO INCREASE OUTREACH
In its efforts to bring its services closer to Fijians, especially those in rural and remote areas, the Ministry of Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation will establish mobile units in 2015.
This initiative will see a ‘one-stop-shop’ service offered to all those living in rural and maritime communities across the country and will allow the Ministry to take its services closer to the people.
The Honorable Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation Rosy Sofia Akbar said one of the key challenges faced by welfare recipients is accessing services offered by her Ministry.
“One of the key plans for next year is the establishment of mobile units. We are in the process of securing the right equipment for this initiative. Through these Units, we will be able to increase our reach to those in remote locations and efficiently deliver services, like information dissemination, processing social welfare applications and incorporate awareness programs for women, children, senior citizens and persons living with disabilities. This will be a one-stop shop service particularly for those who find it difficult to travel to our offices,” Ms Akbar said
“Through the recent public consultations, we have gauged that there is a need for this service particularly for those living in rural areas who are faced with difficulties of accessing the services we provide. We will look into initiatives to take the services closer to them. The social welfare officers have also been advised on the need for a compassionate approach whilst dealing with issues concerning senior citizens, women and children.
“The Ministry has also received positive response from stakeholders in identifying new income generating and employment opportunities for families in Fiji. Those who don’t meet the social welfare criteria are advised that they will be assisted through Ministry’s programs like Welfare Graduation that creates opportunities for vocational skills training and entrepreneurship,” Mrs Akbar said.
She said the Ministry would also look at delivering food packs to welfare recipients living in remote or isolated locations.
“The plan is to deliver packaged food packs to clients in rural and maritime areas so that they are able to have a greater value of the social welfare monthly allowances. In our public consultations it has been reported that some clients have been burdened with transport costs, when accessing welfare assistance.
“With an increased budget of $44.8 million for 2015, the Ministry will increase the number of beneficiaries for Poverty Benefit Scheme, Care and Protection Program, Social Pension Scheme, Welfare Graduation Program and Bus Fare Concession. Women’s livelihood project opportunities will also double through a funding of $1.82 million for the implementation of National Gender Policy and Women’s Plan of Action,” Ms Akbar.
“Poverty Alleviation is a coordinated effort of all the government ministries and departments, a total of $160 million has been directed towards poverty alleviation programs in Fiji,” she added.
MINISTRY ALLOCATES A WELFARE OFFICER FOR KADAVU
In the quest to expand the reach out of government services into outer islands, the Ministry for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation will be deploying staff to service some maritime areas.
The Honorable Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation, Rosy Sofia Akbar confirms that from early next year, Ministry will appoint a social welfare who will be full time based in Kadavu and facilitate Ministry’s programs in all the communities there.
She said this move is in line with government’s commitment to bring the government’s services closer to the communities in maritime areas.
“Through the public consultations on social welfare, we have gauged that the biggest challenge faced in rural and maritime villages is accessibility to transportation. We want the clients to get the best value of the money provided and in some cases clients have been burdened with transportation costs whilst accessing their monthly allowances,” Ms Akbar said.
“The Ministry has advised the people of Kadavu that comes January, there will be a social welfare officer based permanently in Kadavu to process all the social welfare applications. Currently the Ministry is liaising with Kadavu provincial office to organise a quarters for the welfare officer.
“There are also plans to have the food packs delivered right out to the residences of the clients living in interior locations. This is to help the clients to get the best value for the money other than spending it on transport,” Ms Akbar explained.
She said there are new plans to streamline Fiji’s social protection programs and the support from the stakeholders is overwhelming.
“I have been meeting with a number of local and international development partners who are keen to assist the Ministry through technical and financial resources, for new plans in areas of poverty alleviation and women empowerment.
“The support received is very encouraging and every plan will be focused on moving this Ministry to a level higher in its service delivery,” Ms Akbar said.
The Ministry serves more than 5000 clients in the South East Region.
CELEBRATIONS TO MARK LEVUKA’S LISTING AS UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITE
Fiji’s old capital, Levuka, will celebrate one year of inscription as the country’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site later this week.
During a media launch of the one year celebrations in Suva today, Department of Heritage and Arts director, Peni Cavuilagi said the historical port town of Levuka will be a hive of activity this weekend.
Mr Cavuilagi said all Fijians are urged to join in the historic celebrations on December 12 to 13 , 2014.
“We worked towards getting Levuka listed as a World Heritage site because we thought this is the best and appropriate way to protect the heritage of Levuka. The history of Levuka is the history of Fiji,” Mr Cavuilagi said.
His Excellency the President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau will be the chief guest during this unique celebration, which begins on Friday evening.
Mr Cavuilagi said a number of initiatives to assist in the betterment of Levuka will be launched during the celebrations.
“One of those initiatives is ‘fund a heritage project’ whereby the business community and individuals will be able to assist in funding heritage projects because we are not only focusing on the listing of Levuka.
“There are many more development projects that need to be done so that it can enhance the level of protection. The values of Levuka need to be protected and we are also trying to beautify Levuka so that it becomes an international standard of world heritage where people come to visit and learn more about the place,” Mr Cavuilagi added.
The actual celebration on Saturday will begin with a march in Levuka town towards Nasau Park.
“A traditional ceremony of welcome will be accorded to His Excellency the President, followed by mekes and tour of booths. The unveiling of some of the priority projects will also take place because we want to celebrate with a difference.
“We have a signage before we enter the town informing people that they are entering a world heritage site. A commemoration plaque will be unveiled to commemorate the inscription of Levuka as a World Heritage site.
“Information panels have also been put up in the town which tell stories of very significant locations with pictures and maps to inform visitors,” the director said.
A host of cultural activities will be organised to entertain visitors and the people of Levuka.
“We are encouraging children to be part of the celebrations so that they can learn more about Fiji’s history. Members of the diplomatic corp have also been invited to the historic celebrations.”