Government’s support to farmers and fresh produce exporters will be further enhanced when farmers and exporter associations collaborate in solidarity.
This was relayed by the Minister for Agriculture, Rural and Maritime Development, Waterways and Environment Hon. Dr. Mahendra Reddy when meeting with members of the Fiji Fresh Produce Exporters Association (FFPEA) in Nadi this week.
Hon. Reddy highlighted that the association and collaboration between farmers and exporters in the country would only be strengthened through Government support when this had eventuated as allocating public support towards an organization was more practical.
“We want all farmers to be registered and all of them will have identification cards because farmers are also a very important part of the value chain.
“The Ministry of Agriculture looks forward to seeing how we can develop, contribute and deliver the vision to take agriculture to newer heights. It is not easy to change the mindsets from constantly pouring money towards the supply side as people need to become more self-sufficient,” said Hon. Reddy.
He reiterated the need for like-minded commercial and business oriented people who had a passion and saw agriculture as a profession in the industry, which was part of the rationale behind the establishment of the Young Farmers Business Incubator Scheme.
During the meeting, Minister Reddy also proposed that a one-day workshop is organized to include stakeholders like Biosecurity Authority of Fiji, Ministry of Agriculture staff, farmers and exporters of FFPEA to discuss strategies to strengthen and support the proposed formation of the farmer and exporter association.
“We can also have a new name to cover both crop and livestock farmers and exporters and talk about the grant that Government will provide to the association to have an office with fulltime staff,” he added. The president of the Fiji Fresh Produce Exporters Association, Mr. Rizwan Khan welcomed the idea and urged farmers and exporters to liaise and communicate more effectively with the Ministry of Agriculture.
Mr. Khan said the new initiatives like the Establishment of Fruit Tree Orchards and the Young Farmers Business Incubator Scheme was welcomed by the association as far as they meet the supply of the demand they create.
“There will be no wastage of money and the resources we allocate will be fully utilized. We are creating the demand and asking to get together and let’s do cluster farming and also introduce methods which are climate resilient and show to the young farmers that coming into the agriculture business will yield revenue and the exporters will stand up to buy their produce,” said Mr. Khan.
Mr. Khan said operating under one umbrella would be the best method because individually we will not be able to achieve much but together we can achieve more.
Fiji Fresh Produce Exporters Association is a non-profit export promotion organization that assists Fijian exporters and farmers to penetrate new markets worldwide in order to grow their business through export promotion, market information, capacity building, and advocacy.
The members of FFPEA include exporters and farmers. It is the premier trade organization representing those immediately engaged in and directly impacted by developments pertaining to international trade.