- THAI ENVOY PRESENTS CREDENTIAL – His Excellency the President, Ratu Epeli Nailatikau today received the credential of the non-resident ambassador of the Royal Kingdom of Thailand to Fiji, His Excellency Chirachai Punkrasin.
- H.E RECEIVES NEW Uruguay ENVOY TO FIJI – His Excellency the President, Ratu Epeli Nailatikau today welcomed the new non-resident ambassador of Uruguay to Fiji, His Excellency Ricardo Fernandez.
- Sanitation, infrastructure highlights AT NDP TALKS – Access to water, better road conditions and improved sanitations are key issues that Fijians in the highlands of Nadroga/Navosa want to see incorporated in the National Development Plan or NDP.
- FIJI COMMENDED FOR TOBACCO CONTROL EFFORTS – Fiji has been recognised and commended by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in its efforts to combat the consumption of tobacco products.
- AGRITOURISM ANOTHER DIMENSION FOR TRADE, GROWTH – Agribusiness-tourism linkages are perhaps one of the most promising avenues for diversification and trade growth for the agricultural sector in the Pacific.
- FIRST ROUND OF DISTRICT ADVISORY COUNCIL MEETING IN THE NORTH STARTS – Divisional Planning Officer Northern Alipate Bolalevu has called on District Advisory Councillors in the Northern Division to take seriously their role as a link between the government and the people.
- CHAND CAUTIONS PUBLIC ON FIRES DURING CRUSHING SEASON – Sugar stakeholders are urging the general public in the Western and Northern Division to refrain from lighting fires near cane fields with the crushing season now underway.
- FIJI WOMEN’S FEDERATION ADVISORY COMMITTEE DISCUSS WOMEN’S PROJECT – The Ministry of Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation and representatives of Women’s non-government organisation, faith-based organisations and civil organisations held talks this week on gender equality, women socio-economic empowerment and women’s socio-political empowerment.
- GOVERNMENT SUPPORTS AGRIBUSINESS FOR GRASSROOTS AND SMALL HOLDER FARMERS – The Fijian Government fully supports the development of Agribusiness in the Pacific and especially for the empowerment of our grass roots farmers and smallholder farmers.
- AGRICULTURE VISIT BY PRIME MINISTER WELCOMED – MINISTER SERUIRATU – The Prime Minister’s visit this week to agriculture projects in the Central Division has been welcomed by the Minister and staff at the Ministry of Agriculture.
- NEW VEHICLE FOR KORONIVIA RESEARCH STATION – The Ministry of Agriculture acting permanent secretary, Uraia Waibuta officially commissioned a new vehicle for the Plant Protection Section at Koronivia Research Station (KRS) yesterday.
- LEVUKA HOSPITAL RECEIVES NEW WHEELCHAIRS – The Assistant Minister for Health & Medical Services Hon. Veena Bhatnagar today handed over newly donated wheelchairs to the Levuka Hospital.
1 THAI ENVOY PRESENTS CREDENTIAL
His Excellency the President, Ratu Epeli Nailatikau today received the credential of the non-resident ambassador of the Royal Kingdom of Thailand to Fiji, His Excellency Chirachai Punkrasin.
The head of state welcomed the new envoy to Fiji during the Letter of Credence ceremony at Government House.
Ambassador Punkrasin has vast experience in the Foreign Service since his career in the Foreign Ministry of Thailand began in 1984. He was previously posted as Ambassador of Thailand to the United Mexican States and in various missions in countries such as United States of America, Philippines and Singapore.
Mr Punkrasin holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the Victoria University in Wellington, New Zealand and went on to attain his Master of Arts from the School of Oriental and African Studies from the University of London, United Kingdom.
Mr Punkrasin has also been decorated with various awards by the Thai Royal Family for his service to the nation.
His Excellency will be based in Australia.
2 H.E RECEIVES NEW Uruguay ENVOY TO FIJI
His Excellency the President, Ratu Epeli Nailatikau today welcomed the new non-resident ambassador of Uruguay to Fiji, His Excellency Ricardo Fernandez.
The head of state received the credential of the South American nation’s permanent representative to Fiji who will be based in Australia.
Mr Fernandez, who began his diplomatic career in 1979, has in the past served as ambassador to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland as well as to the Republic of Ireland.
The ambassador has worked extensively in Uruguay’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs but has also served in many multilateral organisations and was the President of the V Conference of the Parties in the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.
Mr Fernandez obtained his Bachelor’s degree in Diplomacy from the School of Law and Social Science from the University of Uruguay. He went on to obtain his Master’s degree in Political Science from the University of Georgetown, Washington DC.
3 Sanitation, infrastructure highlights AT NDP TALKS
Access to water, better road conditions and improved sanitations are key issues that Fijians in the highlands of Nadroga/Navosa want to see incorporated in the National Development Plan or NDP.
These improvements were highlighted during the NDP consultations which is currently underway around the country.
Villagers in Raiwaqa, Nasivikoso, Nakavika made these submissions at the consultations this week adding that they wanted to see these critical infrastructures put in place to further enhance the economic participation of those in the highlands.
“We are grateful to the government for improving much of the Valley Road and we want to see that this road is further tarsealed all the way up to the Vatumali Government Station in Keiyasi,” said Tubeirata village headman Setoki Turagadina.
“We also want to see that all homes in the rural areas of Fiji have proper sanitation as this would reduce disease outbreaks in the rural communities,” Mr Turagadina added.
Nadroga/Navosa provincial administrator Peni Koro who was present during some of the discussions said it was an important consultation.
“This is a very critical part of the consultations for those usually neglected in the rural communities to have their voices heard,” Mr Koro said.
As for the village elders in Navosa, they are grateful that for the first time their ideas would be incorporated into the national development plans.
4 FIJI COMMENDED FOR TOBACCO CONTROL EFFORTS
Fiji has been recognised and commended by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in its efforts to combat the consumption of tobacco products.
The Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MOHMS) was today awarded the ‘World No Tobacco Day’ Award for raising awareness and advocacy in the control of illicit trade of tobacco products.
Every year, WHO recognises individuals or organisations in each of the six WHO regions for their accomplishments in the area of tobacco control through the WHO Director-General Special Recognition Awards and the World No Tobacco Day Awards.
Fiji is the only Pacific Island nation that has signed the Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade of Tobacco Products. Illicit trade of tobacco products is the production, import, export, purchase, sale, or possession of tobacco goods which fail to comply with legislations.
The Minister for Health and Medical Services, Hon. Jone Usamate highlighted a recent global school-based health survey in Fiji that concluded that over 55 per cent of children aged between 13 to 15 years said they had adults smoking in their vicinity.
Minister Usamate said Fiji has designated smoke-free public places such as workplaces, markets and retail shops in order to protect the public at large from second-hand smoke.
“Fiji has expanded education and awareness programs about the dangers of tobacco use and second-hand smoke in schools with the support of the Ministry of Education’s National Substance Abuse Advisory Council,” Minister Usamate said.
The Minister commended the Fiji Revenue and Customs Authority on increasing taxes on tobacco products each year.
“My Ministry has begun plans for establishing cessation services with 100 nursing staff across Fiji that are trained to deliver brief tobacco cessation interventions. We will continue to build capacity to provide social support needed to help smokers quit.”
WHO representative and Division of Pacific Technical Support director, Dr Liu Yunguo said the illicit trade of tobacco products was a major global concern.
“Illicit tobacco products draw young people into tobacco experimentation and use because they are more affordable. Such illicit products mislead young tobacco users by not displaying health warnings,” Dr Yunguo said.
Minister Usamate said tobacco control requires a multi-sectorial approach with community involvement and support.
5 AGRITOURISM ANOTHER DIMENSION FOR TRADE, GROWTH
Agribusiness-tourism linkages are perhaps one of the most promising avenues for diversification and trade growth for the agricultural sector in the Pacific.
These were the comments by the Minister for Agriculture Hon Inia Seruiratu while addressing regional delegates at the 2015 Pacific Community Agritourism meeting in Nadi yesterday.
Minister Seruiratu said integrating these two economic activities (agriculture and tourism) presented opportunities for stronger collaboration around agribusiness development in niche markets in support of local agri – food sector and small – scale farmers while reducing the import bill of Pacific island economies.
“This conference is being organised to exchange experience on successes demonstrating the potential of Agritourism markets, particularly about strengthening linkages between national and regional value chain actors with the tourism industry,” he said.
“It is a wonderful opportunity to have a delegation from the Caribbean and the Indian Ocean attending this event and to share their experiences – I urge you all to make the most of the opportunity and explore what synergies are there between the two sectors in our two regions – which whilst far apart, share many characteristics and challenges, which only we in the islands are all too familiar with, and can really comprehend and appreciate.”
The agriculture ministry’s vision he says was to influence market forces through vibrant and sustainable agriculture activity that reduces poverty, reduces the risk of food insecurity and increases the contribution to the national gross domestic product.
“The Plan also brings into perspective the Fiji 2020 Agriculture Sector Policy Agenda which focuses on modernizing agriculture and lifting the sector to another level. This, it endeavours to do by building a modern and organised agriculture in Fiji, developing an integrated infrastructure support system for agriculture, improving delivery of agriculture support services, enhancing capabilities to generate fund and secure investment through foreign investment, public private partnership and other innovative business arrangements such as, for example, cluster development and improving project implementation and policy formulation,” Minister Seruiratu said.
“We share the surrounding Pacific ocean and our lands produce some of the best produce around – taro, cassava, breadfruits, cocoa, coffee, vanilla, to name a few, and of course the ever versatile coconuts. How can we explore and utilise opportunities to leverage on the shared natural resources and expertise and other resources that is available to us – be it in agricultural development, tourism aspects, cultural and creative industries and so forth.”
The three-day symposium is being organised by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community in partnership with European Union and the South Pacific Tourism Organisation and is also attended by delegates from the Caribbean.
“Do not only identify areas in which we can all work together to enhance and strengthen agribusiness and agri – tourism, but identify ways and resource opportunities to support this work and truly make it happen.”
6 FIRST ROUND OF DISTRICT ADVISORY COUNCIL MEETING IN THE NORTH STARTS
Divisional Planning Officer Northern Alipate Bolalevu has called on District Advisory Councillors in the Northern Division to take seriously their role as a link between the government and the people.
Mr Bolalevu made the comments while opening the Labasa District Advisory Council 27 member meeting in the Macuata Province yesterday. Here he urged the councillors to work together with government and take up their roles responsibly.
“The function of a district advisory councillor is to provide development management link between the communities and the government,” Mr Bolalevu said.
He said this can be done through promoting, facilitating and implementing government policies within their rural communities.
“They are also chosen to strengthen and facilitate the partnerships of multicultural development between the state and non-government organizations, they are the coordinating arm of government in the areas they serve in,” Mr Bolalevu said.
Mr Bolalevu said with such meetings, the councillors are able to pursue projects and priority needs for their communities.
“From now on we will have monthly meetings, in the past this was never done, but we need to hear what the councillors have in their reports regarding the needs of the people,” Mr Bolalevu said.
The meeting will also be held in Seaqaqa tomorrow, Bua on Friday, Taveuni on the 6th of July and in Savusavu on the 7th of this month.
Menawhile Mr Bolalevu also informed the members of the council of the National Development Consultations which is to be held from the 8th to the 28th of this month in the Northern Division.
“This is a public consultation for the country where a team will be coming in and I want the message to reach your communities and I want everyone to be part of it,” Mr Bolalevu said.
Mr Bolalevu said it was important to take part in the consultations so they can also raise their views, ideas and plans for the Northern Division.
7 CHAND CAUTIONS PUBLIC ON FIRES DURING CRUSHING SEASON
Sugar stakeholders are urging the general public in the Western and Northern Division to refrain from lighting fires near cane fields with the crushing season now underway.
The Ministry of Sugar acting permanent secretary Parmesh Chand says bush fires and cane fires would be detrimental to the quality of cane and would significantly impact on the quality of sugar produced.
He says, over the years, farmers have been affected as burnt cane means less sugar quantity thus reduces their income.
“We plead with all Fijians not to start up fires along the sugarcane belt areas or any areas for that matter as we are currently experiencing the dry season,” he said.
“Starting cane and bush fires do not only affect the sugarcane farmers but also the environment and we hope that the public exercise extra responsibility when starting fires around their homes to ensure that its controlled.”
Mr Chand’s comments follow a national campaign that began in May to stop bush and cane fires around the country.
Sugarcane Growers Council chief executive officer Sundresh Chetty also uttered similar sentiments saying it was important for all Fijians to understand the extent of damages fires can cause.
“Fires are hard to contain and we continue to advise farmers against burning cane and we also urge our fellow Fijians not to start fires outside their homes,” Mr Chetty said.
Mr Chetty added that over 8, 000 tonnes of cane have been lost to fires this year with damages estimated around over $100, 000.
8 FIJI WOMEN’S FEDERATION ADVISORY COMMITTEE DISCUSS WOMEN’S PROJECT
The Ministry of Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation and representatives of Women’s non-government organisation, faith-based organisations and civil organisations held talks this week on gender equality, women socio-economic empowerment and women’s socio-political empowerment.
The Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation Hon Rosy Akbar said that combating gender-based violence is a priority for the government and the Ministry is poised to lead the charge.
“I want to hear from you on your work – what population you represent and how the NGO grants can help strengthen your institutions to serve your clientele better,” Minister Akbar said.
“We are using our research, monitoring and evaluation unit to enhance our operations and policy directions as the National Women’s Machinery.”
Minister Akbar added that there are more success with individual women recipients who receive income generating projects through the Department of Social Welfare grants.
Ba Women’s Forum president, Dr Maria Doton said the meeting was very encouraging as she had a chance to learn from the other groups on their successes and the challenges that they also face.
“This meeting is a good eye opener for me as we were able to discuss the expectations of the Ministry and what they can do for us in terms of women empowerment, violence against women and all the aspects where women are involved,” Dr Doton said.
“We have a good relationship with the Ministry and they are also aware of our programmes.”
– ENDS –
9 GOVERNMENT SUPPORTS AGRIBUSINESS FOR GRASSROOTS AND SMALL HOLDER FARMERS
The Fijian Government fully supports the development of Agribusiness in the Pacific and especially for the empowerment of our grass roots farmers and smallholder farmers.
The comments were made by the Minister for Agriculture, Rural and Maritime Development and National Disaster Management Hon. Inia Seruiratu as he officially closed the two-day Pacific Agribusiness Research for Development initiative (PARDI) Workshop and Market Day at the Novotel Convention Centre, Lami on Tuesday 30 June, 2015.
Minister Seruiratu acknowledged the achievement of the PARDI Project which commenced in February 2010, coordinated by the University of Queensland and funded by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR).
“This acknowledgement came with my sincere gratitude on behalf of the Government of Fiji, the Agriculture Fisheries, and Forest Sector throughout the region and all those who have been positively impacted by this project for the last five years,” he said.
Mr Seruiratu said that research by PARDI has paved the way forward for the Agriculture, Fisheries and Forests sector in the Pacific by creating sustainable livelihood development outcomes through the supply chain and market driven research which identifies constraints that impede local development.
“Through PARDI research, we, the Pacific society were able to acquire new skills, technologies and product options that improves livelihood.”
He said it also enables locals to address issues that is common to the agriculture sector in the region such as sustainable agriculture development, development of inclusive supply and value chain likewise market driven research.
With that, he added it is strategically aligned to the Fiji 2020 Agriculture Sector Policy Agenda which cluster around 5 key results areas: Modern Organised Agriculture, Integrated Support Infrastructure, Strengthen Agriculture Support Services, Improved capability in planning and policy formulation and Enhance capability in Investment and International Cooperation.
“These key factors require synchronized and collaborative efforts which should be supported by adequate investment and the applications of sound technology and management systems,” he said.
The Minister welcomed the opportunity to have a Phase 2 to PARDI that will be coordinated by the ACIAR Program Managers in the horticulture, fisheries, forestry and agribusiness sectors.
“We sincerely welcome this continued support and we certainly look forward to collaborate further for the development of Agribusiness in the Pacific and especially for the empowerment of our grassroot farmers and SME agribusiness.”
10 AGRICULTURE VISIT BY PRIME MINISTER WELCOMED – MINISTER SERUIRATU
The Prime Minister’s visit this week to agriculture projects in the Central Division has been welcomed by the Minister and staff at the Ministry of Agriculture.
Minister for Agriculture Hon. Inia Seruiratu said that the visit was to show the Prime Minister where the Ministry is currently at so that it will help him to make more informed decisions when it comes to budgetary allocations.
The Prime Minister had initially requested Minister Seruiratu while they were attending the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) meeting in Rome earlier in June if he could visit some agriculture projects and research stations.
PM Bainimarama thanked the Minister, the Permanent Secretary and all staff for the work they have been doing in assisting the people of Fiji in the agriculture sector, especially those living in rural and remote areas.
“You are assisting the people that Government is targeting the most in terms of social projects and social assistance. If you notice most of the projects that we are doing is targeting the people in the rural areas.
“A lot of things need improvement especially cash injection, funding and resources, so hopefully in the next couple of weeks we will work on those especially those that require urgent assistance and budgeting for next year.”
Minister Seruiratu reiterated statements made before that the agriculture sector can contribute significantly to Fiji’s economic growth only if resources and production systems are managed well and gaps in the market value chain are properly addressed.
The Ministry of Agriculture he said, is currently analysing marketing demand and trying to work out the production systems and gaps.
“We are producing less but the demand is more and it is not only on one production but this applies to all commodities,” he said.
Minister Seruiratu said that the Ministry is trying to develop Industry Plans for the main nine (9) commodities produced in Fiji so that this increases production and thus reduces import.
“It will definitely bridge the gap between the demand and the current supply.
The Prime Minister visited Kaiming Agro Processing Limited, Ben’s Trading Limited, the Agriculture Marketing Authority and the Koronivia Research Station.
11 NEW VEHICLE FOR KORONIVIA RESEARCH STATION
The Ministry of Agriculture acting permanent secretary, Uraia Waibuta officially commissioned a new vehicle for the Plant Protection Section at Koronivia Research Station (KRS) yesterday.
Mr Waibuta acknowledged the support of Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) and the Australian Centre for International Research (ACIAR) for the new vehicle for the Research Division through the Integrated Crop Management (ICM) Project.
“It’s been good a time for the Research team’s Crop and Livestock sections since the visit of the PM earlier this week and now the commissioning of this new vehicle made possible through the support of stakeholders.”
He added that the input of such resources will be vital for achieving the MoA’s set targets and accomplish project activities that are donor funded.
Mr Waibuta reminded staff on the importance of such resources which should be used to its maximum potential but at the same time needs to be properly taken care off.
12 LEVUKA HOSPITAL RECEIVES NEW WHEELCHAIRS
The Assistant Minister for Health & Medical Services Hon. Veena Bhatnagar today handed over newly donated wheelchairs to the Levuka Hospital.
The two wheelchairs costing around $3,000, was donated by the LDS Charity who saw patients at Levuka Hospital needing assistance with mobility.
“It is pleasing to note that Religious Organisations are providing such timely donations apart from spiritual support to our people. The Health Ministry is thankful and appreciates such gestures,” Mrs Bhatnager said.
“The wheelchairs will provide support towards movement; allow greater mobility, comfort and independence”.
The Health Ministry continues to welcome such support from non-governmental organisations as it further complements the work and resources that the Fijian Government is already allocating for health services.
The Minister also urged those present at the handing over ceremony to engage in a healthy lifestyle.
“July is Wellness Month, with the theme Don’t Delay, Get Checked Today. Non-communicable Diseases (NCDs) are an increasing problem for Fiji both in terms of increasing economic and social burden”.
The Health Ministry will continue to work with non-government organisations and other partners to enhance the health sector.