The Vanua o Nakovacake in Nadi has been praised for their ingenuity and tactic in implementing strategies to meet the needs of members of their vanua amidst the impact and external shock wrought by COVID-19 on the Fijian economy.
This after the development programmes by members of the Nakovacake Farmers’ Cluster and Nakovacake Development Trust was presented to the Minister for Agriculture, Waterways and Environment Hon. Dr Mahendra Reddy on Wednesday this week at Navoci Village in Nadi.
Minister Reddy said the development plans set out by the Vanua o Nakovacake, which centred on maximising the agricultural possibilities and capabilities of the three clans, Yavusa Tukani, Noi Naiqoro and Nadi of Namotomoto and Navoci villages which make up the Vanua o Nakovacake was evident of the back to agriculture and back to rural movement due to the economic impacts of COVID-19.
He elaborated on the various development programmes offered by the Ministry of Agriculture and advised farmers to look to the future in anticipation of when borders would re-open, stressing the importance for farmers to focus their efforts on commercialising and operating their farms as a business.
“Grow your produce on a large scale so that when international borders re-open, there is an abundance of local produce to meet the demands of the tourism and hospitality sector as discussions are currently in place with the stakeholders in the tourism and hospitality sectors that actively promotes buying local fresh produce from farmers.
He also shared with farmers the importance of committing to their farming ventures and to prepare their supply to meet the ever increasing demands of the markets whether it be from the hospitality market, local markets and or export markets.
Meanwhile, Navoci villager Mr Nimirote Seasea acknowledged the sentiments shared by Minister Reddy on Government’s limited resources and he praised Government for doing their best in mitigating the impacts of COVID-19. “We are all looking to agriculture to sustain our lives because we were greatly affected by COVID, everyone can attest to the potential of agriculture and we are so thankful to meet with you to hold discussions that will improve our farms,” said Mr. Seasea.
Nakovacake Development Trust secretary Mrs. Asinate Saukuru also paid tribute to the aggressive and consistent approach taken by the Ministry of Agriculture to promote agriculture as the way forward for all Fijian households directly affected by COVID-19.
“We are devising our way forward in terms of our Post-COVID-19 programmes and how we can replace the tourist dollar so that we can continue with our lives and we can respond effectively to the impacts of COVID,” she said.
“I would like to thank the Ministry for the aggressive approach and consistency in message that actively promotes agriculture as the way forward, most of us began with the home gardening packages and some have gone on further to other agriculture practices, such as floriculture and some have even planted ginger flowers and orchids because this is an activity we the ladies are actively engaging ourselves in and it is enjoyable.
“We are encouraged by your message to commercialise our activities and we are working towards that common goal, some of our elders are fully supportive of the concept as they are also planning on building their own greenhouses and nurseries,” added Mrs Saukuru.
“We will have a paradigm shift for the vanua o Nakovacake because we know the importance of agriculture and what it can generate for our people,” she said.
Minister Reddy also had a parting message for the people of Nakovacake, whereby he urged all of them not to abandon agriculture when the tourism sector had recovered completely as tourism was formerly their main source of revenue.
“Do not abandon agriculture please when tourism reopens,” Minister Reddy said.