High import bill worsened by disaster

Agriculture Minister Inia Seruiratu shows off Matuku Organics products in Parliament May 15. Picture: PARLIAMENT LIVE

DAMAGE to the country’s agricultural sector following natural disaster spanning as far back as 2011 has been the reason for continued high imports.

Minister for Agriculture, Rural and Maritime Development, Disaster Management and Meteorological Services Inia Seruiratu gave this as an explanation in Parliament today.

He was responding to a question from Opposition MP Pramod Chand to explain why when the government was engaged in the diversification of the agricultural sector was the import bill still high.

Mr Seruiratu ensured the house the government was now focused in developing smarter more resilient farming practices to help farmers bounce back better.

He said the recent inclusion of new destinations by the national carrier Fiji Airways had provided the country with new market opportunities and he displayed various value added agricultural products which could be sold in the new markets.

“We are doing our very best if you look at the export figures, they are increasing. But yes this (import bill) is being addressed,” Mr Seruiratu said.