Minister for Agriculture, Rural and Maritime and National Disaster Management, Inia Seruiratu has called for an increase in rice production as Government continues to provide the necessary environment, funding and technical support.
He made the comments on Tuesday (06/01/15) while addressing Agriculture staff and farmers at the Dreketi Irrigation Office mid-way between Macuata and Bua.
“Government has high expectations of all of us and for that I wish to encourage all the stakeholders that we all have a responsibility to deliver accordingly so that the intentions of Government are realized,” Minister Seruiratu said.
“Government will continue to provide support where necessary, but we have to be fair on Government as well. While Government is preparing resources within its means to assist us in the delivery of the programmes, I also hope that we will take equal responsibility and make the necessary arrangements so that Government plans can be achieved and it can only be achieved if we work together.”
Minister Seruiratu said that rice is quite high on our import bill with Fiji spending close to $40million annually.
“Government introduced the rice revitalization programme a few years back and as we speak, I have tasked our senior management in particular our economic planners to do an analysis on the programme.
“I want to know if we are delivering to the expectation of Government. I have seen a significant increase in rice allocation over the last few years to support rice production and rice development so there is a need to know whether production is equally the same and has increased in the last few years,” the Minister added.
Minister Seruiratu highlighted the support rendered to Fiji by the Government of the People’s Republic of China and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in the production of rice in Fiji over the years in terms of funding assistance, technical expertise provision and training.
Currently, a team of Agriculture Officers from around the divisions in Fiji are being trained on rice planting methods and techniques at the Dreketi Irrigation Office site by FAO’s training specialist, Ms Shahida Sarker Parul.
The training, which started three weeks ago, will end by February.