Government’s continued emphasis and stance on the promotion of farming as a business was reiterated to farmers and youths in the Northern Division.

This was relayed by the Minister for Agriculture, Rural and Maritime Development, Waterways and Environment Hon. Dr Mahendra Reddy while responding to issues raised by farmers on Government’s investment and assistance during his consultative visit to Vanua Levu earlier this week.

Hon. Reddy also encouraged young aspiring farmers to take full advantage of the available assistance and programs provided by the Government and to consider agriculture as a career and business venture.

“Government wants to expand the agriculture sector, for this to happen, full-time farmers who are serious about their farming and will treat it as a business is needed.

“For this, you need to commit yourselves to become a full-time farmer. We will assist and support full-time farmers and we will ensure Governments investment is not wasted but is effectively utilized and its effect being realized on a long-term basis,” said Minister Reddy.

Highlighting the potential contribution that young people could have on the sector, Hon. Reddy emphasized that in order for the agriculture sector’s growth to eventuate, the involvement of youth at an early stage was critical as they would benefit from Government’s investment in the initial stages of their farming venture.

“The Ministry encourages youths to take up agriculture and to seriously consider the sector as a business in order for young farmers to benefit from Government’s current initiatives and programs to help secure them a better future,” he said.

“To attain this, the Ministry of Agriculture has introduced the ‘Young Farmers Business Incubation Scheme’ whereby the Ministry will engage 100 youths aged between 20-30 years for intensive hands-on training over a three-year incubation period, with a focus on youths with land readily available for agricultural purposes and who are already engaged in farming,” Minister Reddy added.

As part of the Young Farmers Business Incubation Scheme, these youths will be required to produce for local and export markets as they will be guided towards farming as a business.