APPROVAL has been granted for the formulation of a framework to guide beef farmers and stakeholders in Nadroga and Navosa as government steps up efforts to ensure food security, import substitution and the ability to meet local demands are met.
In a statement from the Fiji Development Bank this week, Agriculture permanent secretary Ropate Ligairi had given the approval following an organised field trip for beef farmers around model farms this month.
FDB chief executive officer Deve Toganivalu said the move was very promising and encouraged the beef farming in the Western Division. "This is a very timely move to boost the beef and dairy industry in the Western Division with plans by Southern Cross Foods Limited (SCF) and government to extend this industry to that region," he said.
"This will set the platform for farmers to be able to meet the demands of SCF when it begins its operations in the west and likewise meet the demands for meat. We are also ready to assist farmers with respect to finance and we are here with them all the way to ensure that their dreams become a reality.
"Beef farming in the west is being rekindled and with all the stakeholders playing their roles, the light at the end of the tunnel might be a little brighter."
Meanwhile, the excursion was a continuous project by FDB since early last year. The bank had worked closely with farmers, the Ministry of Agriculture and the iTaukei Land Trust Board.
"We have been consulting for a while now preparing the farmers and ensuring they were being proactive in terms of preparations of their farms," said FDB Sigatoka branch officer Alifereti Tora.
"We have been using the solesolevaki approach where each Wednesday, the whole group works on one's farm and on the following Wednesday, the group would work on another member's farm and so forth. This has really motivated them."