- COMMEMORATION OF FIJI LABOUR CORP TO WORLD WAR ONE – His Excellency the President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau led the commemorative service for the Fiji Labour Corp and the First Fiji Reinforcement to World War One today at the National War Memorial Site.
- FIJI MEETS ON TRADE FACILITATION – A three day seminar is currently underway in Nadi with an aim to set the roadmap for Fiji’s implementation of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Trade Facilitation Agreement.
- PS CALLS FOR SUSTAINABLE SOIL MANAGEMENT – Soil is a major resource for agricultural production and Fiji joins the rest of the world in increasing awareness and understanding of the importance of soil for food security and essential ecosystem functions.
- MORE ASSISTANCE FOR BEGGARS – Government has stepped up its assistance to beggars especially those that are homeless, by introducing new mechanisms to address their issues.
- FIJI HOSTS INDONESIAN YOUTH MINISTRY DELEGATES – The Ministry of Youth and Sports today welcomed a 10-member delegation from their Indonesian counterpart at the Ministry headquarters in Suva.
- AGRICULTURE HOUSEHOLD SURVEY CONTINUES IN THE WEST – The Agricultural Household Survey continues this week for farmers in the Western Division.
- COMMEMORATION OF FIJI LABOUR CORP TO WORLD WAR ONE
His Excellency the President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau led the commemorative service for the Fiji Labour Corp and the First Fiji Reinforcement to World War One today at the National War Memorial Site.
Family representatives of the 1st and 2nd Fiji Contingent and Fiji Labour Corps were in attendance at the service held this morning to commemorate those who had lost their lives in the First World War.
As part of the program, His Excellency read out the Roll of Honour of those 111 soldiers who served under the Fiji Labour Corp.
Minister for Defence, National Security and Immigration, Hon Timoci Natuva said that today’s commemorative service was initiated by His Excellency the President following his visit to Scotland last year where he represented Fiji and laid a wreath at the Glasgow Cathedral Commemorative Service.
“Today is to commemorate the Fiji Labour Corp. After the departure of those soldiers who were mainly of European descent, there was a keen interest shown by our local men but this was not possible due to health restrictions by the Commonwealth,” Minister Natuva said.
“The decision was then made for these men to serve under the Labour Corp and away from the front lines and in relatively safe roles.”
“This initiative is also attributed to the late Ratu Sir Lala Sukuna who was enlisted in the French Foreign Legion and fought in the Battle of Champagne where he was wounded and decorated with the Medaille Militaire, his exemplary conduct tipped the balance for iTaukei and the others to participate in the war.”
Commending today’s service was a grand-nephew of the late Ratu Sir Lala Sukuna, Ratu Tiale Vuiyasawa.
“It’s an honour and a privilege for me to be here today and I was humbled to have represented the family and the other families whose descendants are still here ,” Ratu Tiale said.
“It’s also a great step forward by government in remembering our fallen asides from the normal remembrance day service held annually on the 11th day of the 11th month.”
The Fiji Labour Corps left Suva on 19 May 1917 and arrived in France on 4 June 1917, where they were deployed in the port cities of Calais and Marseilles.
- FIJI MEETS ON TRADE FACILITATION
A three day seminar is currently underway in Nadi with an aim to set the roadmap for Fiji’s implementation of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Trade Facilitation Agreement.
Supported by the World Bank Group (WBG) for the needs assessment project, the workshop has brought together Fijian officials from all the relevant ministries and Government entities, as well as the private sector, to carry out the national self-assessment.
The Ministry of Industry and Trade permanent secretary Shaheen Ali who opened the workshop urged stakeholders to design a ‘Fijian Made’ solution that would reduce red-tape and streamline customs and border processes with reforms and technology upgrade.
“This workshop is critical in determining Fiji’s current level of compliance in terms of measures contained in the Agreement and to identify and determine Fiji’s capacity and needs in order to implement any measures within the Agreement, which are not in place,” he said.
“Fiji can proudly say that there are areas in which we have excelled and are the leaders in the Pacific, for example, our Customs procedures and processes which have been digitalised and we are moving towards single window clearance.”
With the successful implementation of Public Private Partnership, Fiji Ports Terminal Limited has improved vessel productivity by 70 per cent, vessel turnaround time has been reduced from 36 hours to 22 hours, reduction of vessel berthing time from 6 hours to 1 hour or less, time taken for customers to deliver or pick up containers has been reduced to 15 minutes.
Mr Ali said significant investments have been made to improve Fijian Airports and roads network contributing to improved logistics in the transportation and movement of goods at its borders.
“Be very thorough when looking at the provisions of the Agreements, assess the provisions carefully and then determine whether we are able to comply immediately, or need time to implement or cannot implement without assistance or resources,” Mr Ali added.
- PS CALLS FOR SUSTAINABLE SOIL MANAGEMENT
Soil is a major resource for agricultural production and Fiji joins the rest of the world in increasing awareness and understanding of the importance of soil for food security and essential ecosystem functions.
This was highlighted by the Ministry of Agriculture acting permanent secretary Mr Uraia Waibuta at the launching of the International Year of Soils (IYS) at Holiday Inn today.
Mr Waibuta said that significant changes have been noted in Fiji’s economy over the last 50 years.
“There has been a move away from heavy dependence on sugar and other agricultural commodities to more dependence on tourism, mining and forestry. There is still heavy dependence on soil related activities for export earnings and local economic activity,” Mr Waibuta said.
The Fiji Institute of Agricultural Science president, Mr Shalendra Prasad said the role of FIAS is to harness Fiji’s agricultural research and development.
“We have seen that farmers have little knowledge on soil types and do not follow proper farming methods to protect our soil. The ministry’s land use division goes out to rural farming areas to raise awareness to farmers on soil management and better utilization of land,” Mr Prasad said.
The acting PS said that farming in Fiji is increasingly being forced onto steeper slopes because of expansion of cash cropping and infrastructural developments.
“Sustainable soil management should be a priority for us all. Symposiums like this one provide a platform to all those interested in advancing agriculture in Fiji to exchange practical experiences, innovative ideas and knowledge to enhance the agriculture sector.”
The launch was part of the Fiji Institute of Agricultural Science (FIAS) symposium with the theme ‘Healthy Soil for a Healthy Life’.
- MORE ASSISTANCE FOR BEGGARS
Government has stepped up its assistance to beggars especially those that are homeless, by introducing new mechanisms to address their issues.
Earlier this week a vehicle was given by the Ministry of Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation to a Taskforce in the western division to monitor seasonal beggars.
This is part of Government’s commitment and assistance to eradicate beggars from the streets and to ensure that they are empowered to be able to provide better living for their families.
“We have profiled beggars around the country and there are less than hundred and this is a number that we are working on to providing them the best possible assistance,” Ministry of Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation permanent secretary Dr Josefa Koroivueta said.
“There are seasonal, mobile, mentally challenged, disabled and neglected beggars and some of them, we have come to realise, will need a longer time to rehabilitate. For the mentally challenged, the solution for them is to have a home and they need to be sheltered, loved and cared for in terms of medical needs.”
Dr Koroivueta says Government has progressed to have a residential home for the mentally challenged as part of its long – term plan.
“If things go into proper construct, then we are looking at Rakiraki to have the first residential centre facility in Fiji and I think the Honourable Minister Akbar has mentioned in Parliament that the Ministry is looking into starting works by the end of the year. If not, then we will commence this facility by 2016.”
Dr Koroivueta said this would be a breakthrough solution because most of the beggars left on the streets were mentally challenged.
“We have actually embarked some of them into catering business and a number of them as market vendors.”
- FIJI HOSTS INDONESIAN YOUTH MINISTRY DELEGATES
The Ministry of Youth and Sports today welcomed a 10-member delegation from their Indonesian counterpart at the Ministry headquarters in Suva.
The 10-member delegation is part of a Joint Technical Working Group, signifying efforts to further explore the implementation of a Memorandum of Understanding on youth and sports cooperation that was signed between the two governments in June 2014.
The Ministry of Youth and Sports permanent secretary Mr Josefa Sania said that the delegation will be here in Fiji to conduct several sports trainings, visit few successful youth clubs and youth institutions in Fiji.
“This visit by the Indonesia Sports and Youth Ministry is a result of the MOU signed between the Fijian and the Indonesian governments last year,” said Mr Sania.
“Indonesia has the world’s fourth largest youth population with over 38.4 million consisting of young men and women,” said Mr Sania.
“The MOU harnesses youth exchange program, exchange visits between the two governments, and more importantly encourages cooperation between youth organisations of both countries and organising training programs.”
He further added that the arrival of the delegation was a step towards fulfilling the areas agreed to by the two parties and Fiji was indeed grateful to the Indonesian government.
Mr Sania stated that sports development is an integral part of the MOU which includes exchange of visits and cooperation between coaches, experts, specialists, and trainers in the fields of competitive sports, sports for all, sports science, sports medicine and sports law between the two countries.
“This week is a fulfilment to the MOU signed last year and this delegation includes several top athletes from Indonesia.
“They are here to pass on their skills in the principle of developing the sports industry in Fiji and establish strong cooperation to improve sports achievement of the two countries,” said Mr Sania.
The Indonesian Assistant Deputy of Sports Affairs Mr Sunyoto thanked the senior officials of the Ministry of Youth and Sports for the bilateral discussions on youth and sports development.
“Today’s discussions have been very fruitful and we look forward to working with the ministry and also to foster better relationships between our two governments especially in the areas of youth and sports development,” said Mr Sunyoto.
“I would also like to thank the Fijian government for offering their services to Indonesia in terms of their willingness to developing the sport of rugby there and we are also ready to offer assistance to Fiji in the areas of youth and sports development as outlined in the Memorandum of Understanding.”
The visiting Indonesian delegation will also be holding Pencak Silat Exhibitions which is the country’s very own form of martial arts and will also conduct badminton coaching clinics.
- AGRICULTURE HOUSEHOLD SURVEY CONTINUES IN THE WEST
The Agricultural Household Survey continues this week for farmers in the Western Division.
Principal Agriculture Officer (Western), Mr. Vinesh Kumar said that the Ministry of Agriculture officials are in the process of collecting data from the farmers.
He said the officers will be visiting farmers in all the three provinces of Nadroga/ Navosa, Ba, Tavua and Ra during this exercise.
“All the people engaged in any sort of farming activity will be captured during this survey whether it is commercial, semi commercial or subsistence farmers.”
He said that after the successful completion of the survey in the Western Division, the correct number of farmers in the different farming categories will be known and the challenges that they are currently facing.
“About 60 agricultural officers are currently engaged in this exercise for the next 20 days where they are expected to visit around 28,000 household in the western division farming communities.”
Mr Kumar said that the data collected during this survey will be will be used by policy makers at national level to make better decisions relating to the Agriculture Sector.
“It will also assist us in organising markets for the farm products produced by the farmers in different geographical locations.”
Earlier last month while launching the agricultural household survey, acting Permanent Secretary for Agriculture, Mr Uraia Waibuta said that data is an essential part of the evidence necessary to evaluate the results of what the Ministry is doing and therefore it requires the need to get things right from the start.
“The Agriculture Census was done in 2009 and the frequent changes in Agricultural activities, socio demographic and farming population data and the unavailability of data with us, has forced the Ministry to carry out the project,” Mr Waibuta had said.
He further highlighted that the Ministry has realized the urgency in updating its statistics database and this has led to strengthening the Statistics Division, the Training of technical staff and the carrying out of the farming household survey exercise.