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Agriculture Boosted With Help From Indian Government

A memorandum of understanding that encourages bilateral cooperation between the agriculture ministry and its Indian counterpart is expected to strengthen the Fijian agricultural sector. As part of the MoU, the Fijian dairy

Agriculture, Waterways and Environment Minister Mahendra Reddy (right) presents a gift to Acting Indian High Commissioner to Fiji Saifullah Khan ahead of the virtual signing on June 22, 2021. Photo: The Minister of Agriculture.

A memorandum of understanding that encourages bilateral cooperation between the agriculture ministry and its Indian counterpart is expected to strengthen the Fijian agricultural sector.

Under the MoU, Fiji’s dairy and rice industries, root crop diversification and water resource management are expected to expand.

Agriculture Minister Mahendra Reddy said other areas of agricultural development – such as food processing, value addition, market access – might expect the same.

“These joint activities and programs will be achieved through technical support, exchange of scientific material and training,” he said during the virtual signing ceremony, “he said.

Permanent Secretary of Agriculture Ritesh Dasss described the event as a landmark decision that finalized a commitment to meaningfully contribute to the development of Fiji’s agricultural sector.

Mr. Reddy said Fiji’s relationship with India was an ongoing commitment that dates back to the 1800s and has grown steadily through ongoing agreements to strengthen development cooperation.

“In 2006, Fiji signed a development cooperation agreement with India through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs which covered areas such as agriculture, fisheries and industrial waste management,” he said. declared.

First Memorandum of Understanding, 2014
The Ministry of Agriculture signed its first MoU with its Indian counterpart in 2014.

The signing marked the start of cooperation in the field of water resources management.

“Also in 2014, the ministry signed an agreement with the Indian International Crop Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT),” Reddy said.

But COVID-19 has brought with it its own challenges over the past two years.

And magnified the importance of agriculture and food security, Reddy said.

“In Fiji, Fijians, due to the loss of jobs, are returning to their villages and communities to cultivate their land,” he said.

“Such events have forced the ministry to rearrange its priorities to respond effectively to the pandemic. “

In response to COVID 19, the Fijian Ministry of Agriculture has devised a plan for agricultural growth and expansion, focusing on initiatives to support the priorities of the Five-Year Agriculture Strategic Development Plan (2019- 2023).

Mr Reddy said the plan included:
● long-term food and nutritional security through the distribution of seeds and plants to rural and urban communities,

● support for commercial agricultural enterprises by promoting investments,

● construction and improvement of agricultural roads to create market access,

● establish nurseries and orchards to ensure a sustainable and * nano-sized seed bank.

“At the same time, the plan aimed to meet key objectives of improving rural livelihoods,” Reddy said.

Fiji’s total gross volume and value of agricultural production for 2020 increased by 5.6% and 2.9% respectively from 2019, he said.

The real GDP of Fiji’s agricultural sector has grown at an average growth rate of 7.9% per year over the past 10 years (2010-2019), Reddy said.

Fiji’s total agricultural imports of fresh and chilled products declined to $ 356 million in 2020, from $ 389 million in 2019, he said.

“Although there is a continuing trade imbalance for agriculture, the Fijian agricultural sector is making steady progress in settling its food import bill,” Reddy said.

The volume of exports of fresh and chilled agricultural products has grown at an average rate of 3.4% per year over the past five years, he said, “As a result, the value of exports of fresh and chilled agricultural products. refrigerated grew 12.3% for the same period, ”Mr. Reddy said.

The total value of fresh and chilled crop and livestock exports increased from $ 67.9 million in 2016 to $ 106 million in 2020, he said.

“These are commendable results, given the catastrophic effects on TC Winston’s production in 2016 and other natural disasters that have occurred as a result, and of course the current pandemic,” Reddy said.

Global Risks Report
The World Risk Report 2018 ranked Fiji 16th out of 171 countries considered highly vulnerable to natural disasters, he said.

“This MoU and its accompanying plan will help Fiji move forward and align our work with the goals set by the Ministry of Agriculture.

Strategic Development Plan 2019-2023, ”said Mr. Reddy.

Between 2016 and 2020, through support for research and science, India provided the Ministry with technical experts in the following areas:
● coconut specialist to help revitalize the coconut industry in Fiji,

● spice consultant to review spice cultivation practices, and

● a food technologist to help add value.

Mr Reddy said that when TC Winston struck in 2016, Fiji received aid of five tonnes of seeds from India.

The seeds were specially transported aboard the Indian Navy ship [INS] Sumitra to support and rehabilitate the victims, he said.

“In 2018, to support the development of agricultural infrastructure, the Indian government donated tractors to support farmers in the central division,” Reddy said.

“Earlier this year, after TC Yasa, India sent a shipment of nearly seven tonnes of seeds to Fiji as a grant for the restoration of affected communities.

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