DISTRICT representatives to the Macuata Provincial Council have been told they are the main cause of poverty in their districts.
Speaking at the Macuata Provincial Council meeting in Labasa yesterday, Macuata senior agricultural officer Kanito Mataveisau said district heads and village headmen were not encouraging villagers to farm their own produce.
Mr Mataveisau said according to research, the Macuata Province had a high rate of poverty and this should not be the case.
"We have vast areas that can be farmed for our subsistence need and commercial use," he said.
"More people are opting for the easy way of procuring food from shops and are turning away from farming.
"District representatives should play a major role in sending out the message to their people that poverty can be avoided if people farm their lands."
Mr Mataveisau said with the rise in non-communicable diseases, farming fresh farm produce could solve the problem plaguing the country and the Pacific.
"Many of us are relying on aid from the ministry but the grants we provide are meagre and people should take the initiative to fend for themselves instead of relying on the ministry," he said.
"Government is monitoring the aid given to farmers to ensure it is used for the purposes for which they were granted.
"Government has power to cease assistance to farmers who do otherwise and use it on other farmers who really mean business."