IN an attempt to promote food security in the country, the Agriculture Department is planning to involve cane farmers to boost food crop production.
Agriculture permanent secretary Ropate Ligairi said the plan was to encourage cane farmers in the west to invest in other forms of agricultural farming such as rice.
Mr Ligairi said the idea was not only to improve food security but to also create more income-generating sources for farmers.
"The west is the biggest cane production area and our plan is to involve these farmers in other agricultural farming," he said.
"Our plan is to try and talk to these farmers and to discuss the possibility of having more sources of income from their land.
"If one farmer plants at least one acre of rice on his land, you can imagine if 15,000 cane farmers are doing the same.
"This is mainly being done to maintain food security in Fiji."
The government spent about $40 million on imported rice per year and Mr Ligairi said he was optimistic the introduction of rice farming to cane farmers would reduce government spending on rice imports.
"We need to further boost the rice revitalisation program with technical and financial assistance from the Chinese government."
"Apart from rice we also need to look at the development of coconut, cocoa, potato, ginger and vanilla which can also be used for income generating sources.
"Agriculture is a vital sector of the economy therefore we need to do the best we can to help our nation's farmers maintain a productive and effective agricultural sector," said Mr Ligairi.