Caption:China Shandong International Economic and Technical Operational Group Ltd.Photo:SUPPLIED.
A boost to the Rice Revitalization Programme in Fiji was earmarked with a recent signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the Republic of the Government of China and the Fijian Government.
The China Shandong International Economic and Technical Cooperation Group Limited (CSI) in technical partnership with world known hybrid rice seeds company, Yuan Longping High –Tech Agriculture Company Limited will work together with the Ministry of Agriculture in producing more rice locally.
Ministry of Agriculture permanent secretary, Ropate Ligairi said the event was a milestone achievement to a vast project targeting the rice production in Fiji.
Mr Ligairi said the Fijian Government is currently importing $40million of rice annually and this agreement is an opportunity for Fiji to reduce the import bill,” Mr Ligairi said.
Mr Ligairi said that the rice commodity was chosen because it is an area which needs assistance in order to improve the livelihood of communities and help reduce the import of rice.
He said that there were some parts of Fiji which are rice prone areas and are located in the economic depressed zones which are far from the markets.
“There is a need to develop those zones and convert them into production and commercial areas in order to increase our local rice production.”
This commodity he said can be kept for long after harvest and with the help of the new machineries and technologies, all activities concerning rice cultivation will be effective and efficient.
Deputy manager for CSI, Wang Zenghe said within the agreement they will bring their machines, experts to train local farmers and staff as well as introducing new rice technology and high yield varieties.
“We would like to see that rice production in Fiji is taken to another level. Currently, the average rice yield in Fiji is 2.5 tonnes per hectare. Through this project, they will demonstrate and train farmers and officers on the technologies to achieve higher yields from 5.0 to 8.0 tonnes per hectare or even more,” Mr Zenghe said.
The approved $10million rice project commences from January 2015 until December 2016. The project identified operation areas are Dreketi Irrigation Project for 200 ha of rice land for extension and one  ha at Koronivia Research Station for rice seeds experiment and research.
The Prime Minister’s Office and the Ministry of Agriculture are both spearheading the project.