(11 March, Rakiraki, Fiji) Up to 80 farmers will directly benefit from using combine rice harvesters handed over at a ceremony held at Madhuvani Rakiraki last week. Funded by the European Union (EU), the three combine rice harvesters will be used by the Madhuvani Rice Cluster, Barotu Rice Cluster and Manisogosogo and Vunivikalowa Rice farmers’ cluster.
The three combined rice harvesters will be used by these clusters to help ease the burden of manual rice harvesting and help hasten the post-harvest practices of individual farmers.
“Today will be very special to our farmers here at Madhuvani, gone are the days when rice farming was operated manually and taken up only to supplement food security,” said Minister for Agriculture Hon. Dr. Mahendra Reddy while officiating the handing over today at Madhuvani.
“It is time to mechanize rice production and the Ministry of Agriculture is ready to support farmers who are willing to get on board and expand their rice production. Therefore, I will encourage not only our farmers here at Madhuvani but throughout Fiji to consider rice farming and work with the Ministry on its upcoming plan to grow Fiji’s Rice Industry,” said Hon. Reddy.
The handover of equipment is part of the EU-funded Pro-Resilient Fiji project which is implemented by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) to support the Ministry of Agriculture’s wider aim to ensure food and income security for Fijian farmers.
The Minister for Agriculture expressed his appreciation to the European Union and the FAO for their support as it would go a long way in enhancing farmer’s livelihoods and promoting economic sustainability through growth in agricultural production.
Ambassador of the European Union for the Pacific, H.E Sujiro Seam highlighted the importance of building resilience of Fijian communities to build their capacity to face challenging situations, like climate change, the COVID-19 pandemic or tropical cyclones.
“The Pro-Resilience project was designed to address climate change. The European Union is the single largest bloc to have committed to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 in our common fight against climate change, and we are proud of it.
Rural livelihoods, agriculture and food security and nutrition are priority sectors for the action of the European Union in Fiji and it is entirely in line with the European Green Deal and the priorities of the Fijian Government’’.
Although Fiji has averted major health impacts of COVID-19 to date, the global pandemic has nonetheless significantly affected the lives and livelihoods of many Fijians. The COVID-19 crisis is affecting the food systems and economy of Fiji with direct impact on the food and nutrition security of the population.
A component of FAO’s Pro-Resilient Fiji project focuses on ensuring food and nutrition security of affected Fijian farmers in securing the village rice production and value chain, village nutritional security, and household long-term food security.
Assistant FAO Representative Ms. Joann Young highlighted the strong partnership between FAO, the Ministry of Agriculture and the EU: “This continuous support has been instrumental to enable reprogramming of our activities in view of the ongoing global economic recession. This partnership provided FAO with the required flexibility to assist directly the rice farmers to improve incomes of rice producers and provide affordable food to all Fijians”.
The FAO in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture through the EU financial support has secured 40 combine rice harvesters and 1,100 rice mills (for a total value of approximately FJ$1.1 million) to be distributed all over Fiji.
The handing over of combined Rice Harvesters will resolve most challenges faced by farmers such as limited labour for harvesting. The combined harvester provides an opportunity to, increase rice planting area, enhance development of rice production, and drive the industry to a commercial platform that will improve Fiji’s self-sufficiency level. This will support cluster farmers and communities engaged in subsistence, semi commercial and commercial rice farming for food security and income generation in Fiji.
Background Pro-Resilient Fiji – Strengthening climate resilience of communities for food and nutrition security To help address the impact of drought on rural communities in Fiji, the European Union has provided EUR 2.8 million (FJD 6.7 million) to FAO to support the country in its efforts to build resilience. The ongoing project aims to structurally and sustainably reduce food insecurity and nutrition deterioration from climate change-induced disasters by tackling the root and underlying causes of vulnerability.
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) is an intergovernmental organization that works in over 130 countries to help eliminate hunger and poverty.
For more information about FAO and its programmes visit: www.fao.org
For further information, please contact:
Ms. Joann Young, Assistant FAO Representative to Fiji
Level 2, Ministry of Agriculture, Raiwaqa, Suva, Fiji
Telephone: +679 3384298/3384299