Participants at the Livestock Forum
The Fiji Government wants to see new and innovative ideas to help drive growth in the livestock sector.
The call came from Fiji’s Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Finance, Filimone Waqabaca, who opened the Fiji Livestock Sector Forum in Nadi today.
Facilitated by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) in partnership with the European Union, Fiji’s Ministry of Agriculture and the Fiji Crop and Livestock Council, the Fiji Livestock Sector Forum is being held from 12-15 May to raise awareness and share information on the changing landscape of livestock development in Fiji.
The meeting participants include young farmers, business operators, processors and sector associations. They represent those working with beef and dairy cattle, goats, sheep, pigs, poultry, honeybees and animal feed.
“As a nation we need transformative thinking, new generation thinking, to take us to the next level,” Mr Waqabaca said
The contribution of agriculture, including livestock, to the Fiji economy has fallen by half over the years to about 12 per cent of GDP. Improving the livestock sector will mean less reliance on imports, higher rural incomes, meeting our food security needs, and assistance with meeting national development goals.
Mr Waqabaca said Fiji had done well in areas such as economic growth, foreign reserves, control of inflation and reducing debt yet new targets were needed, including those for livestock.
The Deputy Director of SPC’s Land Resources Division, Dr Ken Cokanasiga, said an output of the national consultation will be a development strategy on the way forward for development of the Fiji livestock sector.
“The consultation will also provide a platform for discussions and a collective input into the proposed Fiji Livestock Feed Bill. There will also be discussions to raise awareness on the Fiji National Agriculture Policy 2020,” Dr Cokanasiga said.
‘One challenge facing the livestock sector is the need to attract more young people, and it’s good to see young farmers among the participants,” he added.
The national stakeholders’ consultation, themed ‘Livestock for Livelihoods – new generation thinking’, is supported through the European Union-funded, SPC-implemented Pacific Agriculture Policy Project.
The Attache and Sugar Programme Coordinator, Delegation of the European Union of the Pacific, Xavier Canton Lamousse, highlighted the importance of the livestock sector saying:. “No country in the world has succeeded in pulling itself out of poverty without first creating a reliable agricultural sector. Investing in agriculture would make a significant difference for those in need.”
The sessions cover considerations needed to the change the landscape for the Fiji livestock sector, how to make the best use of opportunities and raising awareness of the National Agriculture Policy 2020.