The contribution of small holder farmers towards realizing the inherent potential of the local livestock industry was reiterated to farmers of the Northern Division today.
This was relayed by Minister for Agriculture Hon. Dr. Mahendra Reddy while handing over farming assistance packages of fencing materials to 45 livestock farmers of Natabe in Macuata, where he emphasized their contributions could effectively elevate the sector.
Hon. Reddy said the development and progression of small holder farmers towards large scale farming was crucial to ensure the sector’s progress.
“For the last five years, Fiji’s sheep and goat industry both experienced positive production growth of 24% and 29% respectively.
“Most farmers rely on this commodity as their main source of livelihood. These important factors warrants government’s increased attention and support and in return demands farmers’ interests and consistent efforts in sustaining their farms,” he said.
Minister Reddy elaborated that there was 752 sheep farms and 1,440 goat farms which were operating commercially in the country, with a significant number of farmers attempting to venture into commercial levels.
“However, there are a large number of farmers, who are raising their livestock as small holder who wish to expand but do not have resources to develop fenced paddocks.
Hon. Reddy reiterated that through the assistance, farmers were expected to raise their base stock and to expand production.
He also highlighted the Ministry’s objective to increase production for sheep, beef and dairy products by increasing dairy and beef cattle in Fiji.
“You can see how important the livestock sector is to the Government, and its potential, which can assist in decreasing Fiji’s importation of meat and dairy products by increasing local production.
Grant recipient Ram Kewal of Natabe said the assistance would greatly assist in the maintenance of his stock.
“As a small holder farmer who is willing to grow, I am grateful for this assistance as this will enable me to improve and extend the fencing of my stock, prevent them from going astray or getting stolen, and I am looking forward to expanding my herd because this is our main livelihood,” he said.
The Ministry of Agriculture provided assistance packages of 8 coiled goat fence (4ft x 50 m), 19 Pine posts (1.8m x 100mm) and 3kg U-nails to each farmer to incentivize small holder farmers to expand livestock farms into commercial farm.
The assistance, through a grant of $140,000 received by the Ministry of Agriculture, is earmarked for 134 farmers around Fiji, with 39 recipients from the Western Division already having received similar assistance packages last week.