CAPTION: Some of the FCLC Association members, its executive and associates during its first meeting of the year held recently in Suva. (l-r) Brij Lal (Food Processors Association) Steven Ting (Fiji Meat Industry Board), Simon Cole (Chairman FCLC), Lavinia Kaumaitotoya (CEO FCLC) Sevuloni Lutu (Sheep Industry Association), Graeme Thorpe (Root Crops & Pawpaw Association) and Michael Brown (Nature Ways Cooperative). Photo: SUPPLIED.
With its first meeting of the year behind them, the Fiji Crop & Livestock Council (FCLC) has begun to organize its Secretariat and its years activities.
Council Chairman Simon Cole introduced newly appointed FCLC Secretariat CEO Lavinia Kaumaitotoya. to the meeting and told Council members that the Secretariat is expected to be fully operational in July working out of its new premises in Lautoka.
The FCLC was introduced to provide key services to its member Associations specifically designed to address the needs of the farmers. These services, expected to be in place later in the year, are designed to complement those of the Ministry of Primary Industries and drive growth in the agricultural sector towards poverty alleviation, food security, import reduction and increased exports.
Associations that presently make up the Council are the Pig, Dairy, Beef, Sheep/Goat, Root Crop, Ginger, Kava, Honey, Fruit, Salad Vegetables and Coconut Associations, as well as Food Processors.
FCLC Chairman Simon Cole said the depth of expertise in the various agriculture disciplines represented by Council members underscores the contribution it can make in “key services” to address the needs of the farmers.
“In the meeting we discussed the ongoing Brucellosis problem that is still affecting many farms, and the Council volunteered to work closely with Government to support a successful outcome to this ongoing problem.
“We suggested that, because our members are effected in many ways by decisions made by BioSecurity, that a closer working relationship would be of significant value to and enhance the services provided to our Associations.
“For instance we would like to work with Bio Security to increase the number of approved varieties and sources of planting material brought into the country to allow our farmers to grow more crops. The Council has expertise in fruit and vegetables and can identify opportunities to develop our industry. ” said Mr. Cole.
He said that members all concurred that FCLC should be involved in all levels of Agriculture, including education; that it should be a partner in developing educational standards and curriculum for the industry “to make our students viable players.”
Mr. Cole said that also on the meeting agenda were some of the ongoing challenges that affect farmers in the country including flood relief compensation, insurance, agriculturaltheft, and other issues involving livestock and crops.
The meeting was also briefed on the development of a number of mobile phone applications that are expected to be introduced later in the year by the International Trade Centre (ITC) through the Council to “dramatically’ improve farm communications and efficiency.
“The ITC is providing the resources toestablish the FCLC Secretariatand technical expertise to help us launch and sustain our next phase of development for the benefit of the farmers and agriculture in Fiji,” said Mr. Cole.