THE government has invested $146,000 in developing an off-season vegetable planting program in an effort to ensure the availability of everyday vegetables all year round.
The program conducted by the Department of Agriculture (DoA) in partnership with highland farmers in Nadarivatu saw the purchase of a tractor, storage containers and agro-inputs and four kilometres of drainage works.
Agricultural officer Ba Saidi Achari said the funding would also pay for the clearing of land for planting.
"Under this program, we are also trying to open up new farming areas as there is a lot of plateau up in Nadarivatu," she said.
"Land clearing will also be carried out in some farms so that planting programs can be carried out.
"The DoA has purchased all agro-inputs and farmers are buying them on a one third basis.
"The interest has really grown with the farming communities and villages in Nadarivatu and we are expecting about 250 farmers to benefit from this program," said Ms Achari.
Ms Achari said the program was initiated after the identification of a huge demand for vegetables in the off-season.
"There is a lot of demand for vegetables during off-season and Nadarivatu is an ideal location for planting off-season vegetables.
"Nadarivatu receives rainfall all throughout the year and the temperature is very good for vegetable production," she said.
Under the program, farmers will plant carrots, zucchini, rock melon, capsicum, tomatoes, lettuce and english cabbage.