Production of rice for Lagalaga farmers in Vanua Levu received a boost this week with the handing over of a portable rice mill machine to farmers in the area.
The Ministry of Agriculture, under its Rice Revitalization Program, provided the $1,200.00 worth of assistance to farmers of Lagalaga to encourage improved production of recommended rice varieties.
While officially handing over the portable rice mill machine, Minister for Agriculture, Rural and Maritime Development, Waterways and Environment, Hon. Dr Mahendra Reddy said Government would continue to support farmers that cultivated crops recommended by the Ministry of Agriculture.
Dr. Reddy also reiterated to farmers on the need to treat farming as a business and to heed recommendations from the Ministry on which crop varieties to plant as that would increase production and ensure harvested varieties were compatible with Government assistance.
With labour costs continuing to be an issue for farmers, Hon. Reddy said if farmers grew recommended rice varieties, the Ministry of Agriculture would further assist farmers in the area with a rice reaper.
“If the farmers grow traditional varieties of rice then they will not be able to use the machines such as rice reaper because it can only harvest short variety of rice like Star and Bold grain,” said Dr. Reddy.
Vice President of the Nadogo Community Rice Farmers group Mr. Ami Chand said the machine would assist approximately 100 farmers in the areas of Nubu, Lagalaga, Kurukuru, Baqa up to Kilikoso.
“The farmers appreciate the assistance by Government through the Ministry of Agriculture and I am sure they will make good use of it. The farmers in this area plant rice for food security and some also sell to Fiji Rice Ltd at $800 per tonne,” he said.
“Farmers here grow short term varieties of rice such as Star and Bold Grain which provide better yield compared to the traditional varieties and we will continue heeding the advice of Ministry officials to grow these varieties because we’ve seen its benefits,” he added.
Mr. Chand also acknowledged Government support through land clearing and drainage works on farms in the area, from which farmers were able to make profits from their rice farming. The new portable rice mill machine will be placed at an ideal location and farmers could bring their own paddy and have it milled closer to their farms. Rice farmers of Natabe in Daku and Solove in Seaqaqa will also soon receive one portable rice mill machine respectively.