Ten farmers including one woman that formed a cluster in Serua in April 2020, will not have to worry about where to market their produce after a historic signing with the Agriculture Marketing Authority (AMA) yesterday.
In officiating at the contract signing between Matadonu Farmers Cluster and the AMA in Namaqumaqua, Serua the Minister for Agriculture, Waterways and Environment, Hon. Dr Mahendra Reddy told farmers their usual concerns of finding a market was no more.
“Today, those concerns will be taken away from you. You do not have to take all your produce to Suva or Navua Market. We are going throughout Fiji to invite farmers to produce and we will provide the market through AMA,” he said.
Minister Reddy said Government was carrying out a number of initiatives such as identifying new export markets for Fijian farmers to supply to such as the Australian and New Zealand market for dalo.
“Product development is also integral to Government so we will be expanding this area to focus on export crops such as dalo chips, dalo fries, and dalo flour.”
He also urged farmers to begin thinking of export crops like dalo, duruka, and bongo chillies.
“I want farmers to sign up with AMA to produce squash as well. Squash is very popular in New Zealand, Korea, and Japan. We will open pathways for you, so I want to encourage farmers to grow squash.”
Minister Reddy thanked the farmers for forming the Matadonu Farmers Cluster and looked forward to a long term relationship with them.
The cluster’s President, Mr Fida Mohammed Shah, 43, said the signing was a significant occasion.
“We all have to start small then grow. This initiative is good for a number of reasons such as it will be good for the younger generation to not only learn farming but it is also a source of income for them. “Now we are not worried about looking for a market for our produce, the market through AMA is there.
“The village of Namaqumaqua will benefit as it will generate employment when this farm cluster grows bigger,” Mr Shah said.
The only woman farmer in the cluster, Mrs Litimai Ratuloaloa, 40, said she joined the cluster to not only encourage women but also empower them to join the agriculture sector.
“It’s an eye-opener for the women who are here too, I thought of not joining but then again, said, why not?” “I used to work before and I thought I wouldn’t be able to enjoy the experience. But now that I’ve tried it, I see it as a hobby and I love it,” she said.
Mrs Ratuloaloa added she was also setting her sights on growing her farm by delving into the cottage industry and has sought advice from the Ministry of Agriculture.