- CENTRE TO ASSIST GROWTH OF SMEs – THE FIJIAN Government wants to build a strong and resilient economy that is able to sustain external shocks while enabling the grassroots to have a sustainable livelihood and better standard of living.
- MINISTRY AND CRISIS CENTRE ORGANISES MALE ADVOCACY TRAINING – The Ministry of Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation in partnership with Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre has organised a week long training on “Male Advocacy – Elimination of violence against Women and Children,” at the Centre for Appropriate Technology and Development (CATD) in Nadave.
- REACH PROJECT IS TIMELY- AKBAR – The REACH Project focuses on reaching out to people with adequate information and services to make a positive difference in their lives, says the Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation Hon. Rosy Akbar.
- Fiji sugar “selling hot” in Republic of Korea markets – Fiji sugar is now being sold in South Korea and already it is a hot commodity says the Chairman of Paradise Bio Sugar (PBS), Mr Lee Hon Gyu.
- FIJI- INDONESIA PURSUE COLLABORATION IN GENDER VIOLENCE AWARENESS TRAINING – Strengthened collaboration between Fiji and the Republic of Indonesia will enable information sharing and resources in terms of eliminating violence against women and children.
- EDUCATION SECTOR PLANS FOR GLOBAL MARKET – The education sector needs to be inclusive and provide international standard of education so that Fijian students are equipped to achieve excellence in any field of work.
- PRESERVE NATURAL RESOURCES FOR FUTURE FOOD SECURITY – Conserving indigenous animal genetic resources for future food security needs as an adaptation measure to climate change and importantly to ensure that our unique genetic resources are not lost is a new area that is being looked at by the Ministry of Agriculture [MoA].
- Minister of Employment Meets Director-General of the ILO – The Minister for Employment, Productivity and Industrial Relations Mr Jioji Konrote met with the Director-General of the International Labour Organisation in Geneva, Switzerland.
- CENTRE TO ASSIST GROWTH OF SMEs
THE FIJIAN Government wants to build a strong and resilient economy that is able to sustain external shocks while enabling the grassroots to have a sustainable livelihood and better standard of living.
The Minister for Industry, Trade and Tourism, Hon Faiyaz Koya said the small and medium enterprises sector played a pivotal role in the national economy as they contributed approximately 12 per cent towards the Fijian Gross Domestic Product or $800 million.
“The FijiFirst Government has persisted, despite criticism, and provided micro, small and medium enterprises support, advice and assistance through many initiatives such as, the Grant Equity Assistance Programme under the Northern Development Programme,” he said.
While launching the SME Promotions and Sales Centre, Minister Koya said the centre will be an important facility that will provide SMEs an opportunity to market and promote their products. The centre is part of the services being provided by the National Centre for Small and Micro Enterprises Development (NCSMED).
Minister Koya said the Centre will provide the platform for SME businesses to get the best exposure, have a better understanding of how the market works and, most importantly, assist them to link up with potential buyers. He said so far, 1846 enterprises have been assisted with the grant assistance totalling to $6.4m.
Furthermore, the Minister said 3073 businesses had undergone training and 80 per cent of these businesses had registered growth. Minister Koya said Government would channel over $1m to assist SMEs in the coming months. “Additionally, my Ministry last year ventured into a new mentoring programme and assisted at least 60 micro, small and medium enterprises and cooperatives,” he said.
Minister Koya added that the Fijian Trade Policy Framework views the development of SMEs as vital to the Fijian industrialisation process and recommends a holistic review of the policy framework pertaining to the sector.
NCSMED acting chief executive officer, Ravi Chand said the centre will be an addition to the array of business support services currently available to SMEs in Fiji. He said the SMEs from throughout Fiji can use the centre to promote and sell their products.
NCSMED’s extensive list of SME focused initiatives include: finance, training, business planning, mentoring, counselling, and advisory services.
- MINISTRY AND CRISIS CENTRE ORGANISES MALE ADVOCACY TRAINING
The Ministry of Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation in partnership with Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre has organised a week long training on “Male Advocacy – Elimination of violence against Women and Children,” at the Centre for Appropriate Technology and Development (CATD) in Nadave.
The training which started on Monday this week ends on Friday morning with an official closing program. The Ministry’s permanent secretary Dr Josefa Koroivueta says that this is first time for the Ministry to organise such a training.
“There are altogether 32 male participants for this training and it includes the gatekeepers of the declared Zero Tolerance Violence Free Community Campaign. This is the first ever advocacy training organised for the male advocates who are religious leaders, turaga ni koro’s (village headmen), youth leaders and police officers. Similar trainings will be organised for the eastern, northern and western divisions.
“This training is a platform that enables male advocates to openly discuss new ideas, challenges and map the way forward in addressing issues of violence in their communities. It will help the participants to discuss the causes of violence and identify workable strategies to eliminate violence in their communities.
“The Ministry is grateful to the Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre for their support in organising this important training and their continued partnership with the Ministry in addressing the issues of violence in Fiji,” Dr Koroivueta said.
He said these male leaders will be provided with further training opportunities to help them become champions of violence free communities in Fiji.
To date a total of 39 communities have been declared violence-free and 27 communities are still in the process of completing the 10 phase awareness programs to be declared as violence-free communities in Fiji.
Some of the key objectives of the male advocacy training include:
- To examine participants’ own attitudes and beliefs
- To determine the role of men in eliminating violence against women.
- To provide an action plan for implementation
- Enable a greater understanding of violence against women and its root causes
- Being able to properly respond to issues of violence against women and promote women’s human rights.
- Facilitate action plan for becoming the champions of violence free communities
- REACH PROJECT IS TIMELY- AKBAR
The REACH Project focuses on reaching out to people with adequate information and services to make a positive difference in their lives, says the Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation Hon. Rosy Akbar.
“REACH” (Rights, Empowerment and Cohesion for Rural and Urban Fijians) is a 2.7 million dollar project funded by the Government of Japan and will be implemented by the Fijian Government in partnership with the UNDP (United Nations Development Program).
“REACH is a 3 year project designed to improve social services accessibility for all Fijians by providing an integrated capacity building opportunities for rural communities and informal settlements in Fiji. The Project comes at a very crucial time, given the increasing demand for Ministry’s services and its role in reaching out to the disadvantaged families in Fiji.
“As part of this project the Ministry will be provided with 3 mobile buses this year which will operate in the central, western and northern divisions. The 3 mobile units will be fully equipped and is designed to reach in the rough terrains and hard to reach communities,” Minister Akbar explained.
The mobile units will provide a one-stop shop information service for women, children, youths and senior citizens in rural and remote communities.
“The team from the Ministry and UNDP will use these mobile units to provide important information and services relative to social services, justice, good governance, gender, women empowerment, child welfare services and programs for persons living with disabilities.
“It complements the Fijian Government’s existing programmes to ensure that every Fijian is granted the equal opportunities to reach to their maximum potential. The essence of our work is to take the government’s services to every Fijian of this nation, no matter who they are or where they live.
“The Reach Project will help us achieve this through working in partnership with the Japanese Government and UNDP. There will be a project monitoring component in place, together with the stakeholders discussions for ongoing analysis of this milestone project,” Minister Akbar added.
The REACH partnership was formalized in April this year, through the signing of a joint agreement by the Prime Minister Hon. Voreqe Bainimarama, Japan’s Ambassador to Fiji H.E Takuji Hanatani and UNDP resident representative Osnat Lubrani.
- Fiji sugar selling hot in Republic of Korea markets
Fiji sugar is now being sold in South Korea and already it is a hot commodity says the Chairman of Paradise Bio Sugar (PBS), Mr Lee Hon Gyu.
PBS is exporting Fiji’s raw sugar to South Korea under a special arrangement with the Fiji Sugar Corporation. The company hopes to finalise in the near future a permanent arrangement for bulk sugar export.
“Whilst we are still undertaking marketing and securing further deals with retailers and major food processing and cosmetic companies in Korea and China, our consumer base and sales are growing exponentially every month” Mr Lee said.
Mr Lee made the comments at a briefing during a recent tour by Fiji’s Ambassador to ROK Filimone Kau to PBS Korea’s sugar packing factory in Busan, Southern Korea.
He added that Fiji sugar was special in that it was well suited for South Korean food processing, particularly in fermentation and other uses.
“There is also growing interest in its use for cosmetics,” he said. Mr Lee was thankful that their company can assist in not only boosting the volume of trade between Fiji and South Korea but also promoting Fiji’s excellent sugar quality in Asian markets.
In response, H.E Ambassador Kau thanked Chairman Lee and employees of PBS Korea and their marketing agents for their effort in promoting the export of Fiji sugar.
“This is a great opportunity for Fiji to expand its sugar export into the Asian region and hopefully find a permanent niche in South Korea and other Asian countries,” he said.
He also told the company and marketing agents that sugar exports to South Korea is not only a boost to the Fijian economy but it has direct and indirect impacts to the households in Fiji that rely directly on the sugar industry for their livelihoods.
Ambassador Kau took a site tour of the factory to witness the elaborate process of cleaning, refining and packaging of raw Fiji sugar into custom made packaging for different customers.
- FIJI- INDONESIA PURSUE COLLABORATION IN GENDER VIOLENCE AWARENESS TRAINING
Strengthened collaboration between Fiji and the Republic of Indonesia will enable information sharing and resources in terms of eliminating violence against women and children.
This was highlighted during the official visit to the Jakarta Women’s Crisis Centre in Indonesia on Tuesday this week by the Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation, Hon. Rosy Akbar.
Speaking at this meeting, Minister Akbar said that a consolidated effort is needed to address domestic violence in developing countries.
“We thank you for this opportunity to share information on some of your best practices and experiences in addressing issues like domestic violence. In Fiji, research shows that 64 percent of women have experienced physical or sexual violence by a husband or intimate partner.
“In recent years, Fiji has enforced important laws like the Domestic Violence Decree, Child Welfare Decree and Crimes Decree that safeguards and protects women and children against issues of violence and abuse.
“The Ministry is also working with Fiji Police to develop a Memorandum of Understanding to intensify efforts to eliminate violence against women and children. Apart from conducting community awareness programs, the Ministry also provides skills training and income generating opportunities for women. Socioeconomic empowerment and leadership development of women is also one of the key strategies in addressing domestic violence,” Minister Akbar reiterated.
Minister Akbar said that the Ministry has also received increased budget over the years to carry out its role.
The Fijian Minister for Women also took the opportunity to explain about some of the significant plans and programs of the Fijian Government to safeguard the rights and interests of women. These are:
- The Ministry in partnership with Non-Government Organisations plans to build a Safe House for victims of domestic violence. Currently, Fiji doesn’t have any safe houses for women and children who are victims of domestic violence and abuse. Minister Akbar said this facility would provide accommodation and counselling services for victims of violence to find their strength to live a empowered life.
- Male Advocacy Awareness Programs are conducted in partnership with women NGO’s
- Repeated messaging through media campaign, television and radio advertisements to disseminate information.
- Implementation of Fiji’s National Gender Policy
- Networking with partners both locally and internationally to expand reach out and opportunities for women and children.
- EDUCATION SECTOR PLANS FOR GLOBAL MARKET
The education sector needs to be inclusive and provide international standard of education so that Fijian students are equipped to achieve excellence in any field of work.
These comments were reiterated by the Minister for Education, Hon. Dr Mahendra Reddy at the District Education Officers Workshop in Nadi today.
Hon. Reddy said Fiji’s education sector has been continuously challenged to achieve this.
“Thirty years ago, the education sector was only considering the Fijian labour market, now we are working towards achieving those quality and standards for our students to be able to excel in the global world,” he said.
“We need to ensure that not only our students are given the right training but we need to continuously review our curriculum to be able to achieve those standards and quality.”
The workshop for district education officers is aimed at improving service delivery within the education Ministry and Hon. Reddy says education officers need to be equipped with necessary skills to be able to attain these goals at a national level.
“You (education officers) are our hands and legs on the field and it is important that there is a holistic approach from the ministry in order to achieve our goals,” Hon. Reddy said.
“Government has already indicated its commitment to the education sector through its budgetary allocation to the sector which is evident through free primary and secondary education and now we have free education until tertiary level of our students.”
- PRESERVE NATURAL RESOURCES FOR FUTURE FOOD SECURITY
Conserving indigenous animal genetic resources for future food security needs as an adaptation measure to climate change and importantly to ensure that our unique genetic resources are not lost is a new area that is being looked at by the Ministry of Agriculture [MoA].
For this purpose a one-day animal genetic project introductory workshop was conducted at the Koronivia Research Station by the Ministry in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organization [FAO] of the United Nations and the Secretariat of the Pacific Community [SPC].
The Ministry’s acting permanent secretary Uraia Waibuta said that the conservation and development of Animal Genetic Resources [AnGR] is an important activity for every country.
“This project follows on from the initial South West AnGR pilot project on the Inventory and DNA characterisation of genes in indigenous pigs and chicken in Fiji, Niue, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu from 2008 to 2010,” he said.
In that project, he said the DNA analysis for pigs and chickens showed high genetic diversity within the indigenous populations in the six project countries.
For the chicken analysis, he said the results showed high variability in genetic diversity within the populations however the indigenous chicken populations in these countries were found to be very closely linked to the red jungle fowl.
“Although, the study showed very unique genetic diversity in populations, the Niue population showed the most uniqueness in its gene make up.”
Mr Waibuta said the study also proved that there was no evidence of genetic contamination from commercial chicken breeds in all six populations.
“This means that the indigenous breeds of chickens and pigs in these countries including Fiji are considered most unique and therefore are regarded as important indigenous genetic diversity hotspots in the global conservation programmes.”
“These encouraging findings led to FAO reaffirming its commitment to continuing with the genetic conservation and multiplication programmes through the current South West Pacific Animal Genetic Resources Project on conservation of indigenous pig and chicken breeds in Fiji, Niue and Cook islands,” he said.
He added the project is supporting the conservation of indigenous pigs through the various activities to be implemented in Fiji.
“I am happy to note that Fiji is making every effort through the project to develop and conserve local indigenous pig and chicken breeds for future use,” he added.
This introductory workshop is designed to introduce the project activities and to bring to everybody’s awareness what the project is hoping to achieve.
The participants of the workshop were the staff of Animal Health and Production Division MoA, SPC staff and pig, beef and chicken farmers.
The participants were informed about the global status of the AnGR and why it is important to conserve local resources and reviewed what has been done in the previous regional AnGR pilot project.
They also witnessed the DNA results of the indigenous pig and chicken samples collected from Fiji, Niue, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu and also participated in a discussion on identifying the breeding objectives of the centre, as the initial work began last year.
- Minister of Employment Meets Director-General of the ILO
The Minister for Employment, Productivity and Industrial Relations Mr Jioji Konrote met with the Director-General of the International Labour Organisation in Geneva, Switzerland.
The Minister expressed his appreciation for the support and assistance given by the ILO to Fiji, especially in relation to tripartite relations in Fiji and legal support. The Minister said that there was optimism that the consultation process on reforms to labour laws would be fruitful and positive. The Minister and the Director-General also discussed general developments taking place in Fiji, including the reforms implemented by Government to ensure the right to development of every citizen of Fiji. They also discussed Fiji’s positive economic growth, which augured well for job creation and for the maintenance of decent working conditions.
The meeting took place during the International Labour Conference, during which the Minister and his delegation also held consultative meetings with Fiji’s Employers’ Workers’ representatives to the meeting.
The Fijian Government delegation includes the Permanent Representative of Fiji to the UN in Geneva, Nazhat Shameem Khan, the Deputy Permanent Representative Namita Khatri, First Secretary at the Geneva Mission, Ajendra Pratap, Director of Labour Policy Vani Varea, State Counsel at the Attorney-General’s Office Robyn-Ann Mani.
The Conference concludes on Friday the 12th of June.