Lifting agricultural productivity

Josateki Sailosi and other farmhands harvest ginger at Baulevu, outside Nausori. Picture: ELIKI NUKUTABU

Josateki Sailosi and other farmhands harvest ginger at Baulevu, outside Nausori. Picture: ELIKI NUKUTABU

It’s about lifting agricultural productivity in all the country in which it operates and it helps improvement in the livelihoods of small holders, whether they are small holder farmers or small holder fishers.

Australian High Commissioner John Feakes made the comment during the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) Commission and Policy Advisory Council’s project site visits to Navua last week.

“ACIAR is doing great work to improve commercial outcomes for small farmers and foresters and fishers,” Mr Feakes said.

He said ACIAR was about sharing Australian agricultural expertise with close partners Fiji and this was the first time that CEO Professor Andrew Campbell brought his board, the commission, and policy advisers, to the Pacific to see first-hand the work that ACIAR was doing.

Mr Feakes said he had two officers working for the commission in his office in Suva.

“Yesterday (Monday), we had a meeting with Agricultural Minister Inia Seruiratu and it’s the first time that the commission which is the board that sits above ACIAR, has been to Fiji,” he said.

Prof Campbell said ACIAR specialists had been travelling to Fiji over the past 30 years they had been working in Fiji.

“And over that time I think we have worked on well over 50 projects in Fiji,” Prof Campbell said.

He agreed that apart from funding these projects the ACIAR also provided technical advice, support and training.

“Often Australian scientists and specialists are working alongside their Fijian counterparts and we are also training young Fijian scientists to do the research themselves.”

On the Galoa fish hatchery, which the group had visited earlier, he said: “We have helped with some of the science on how you feed the larvae.”

He said they helped the hatchery come up with a very good system that ensured good productivity and was safe and spreading biosis or bacteria throughout the cultured systems.

“It’s very hard to get agriculture systems to a very reliable state of productivity from the biosecurity point of view.

“So we’ve been working with the whole supply chain,” he said.

He said ACIAR had helped Fiji in agriculture, fisheries and forestry projects.

“Everything Australia does, whether it’s ACIAR or any other Australian organisation, is done in partnership with the Fijian Government, so in that way we reinforce and support their policies,” Mr Feakes said.