FOOD security is one of the biggest challenges for any country and it is one of the key mandates of government to ensure people have access to good quality and nutritious food.
Speaking at the opening of the new FNU aquaponics farm in Legalega, Nadi, Minister for Agriculture Colonel Inia Seruiratu said Fiji needed to be more efficient in production of food.
"We also need to constantly explore new agricultural methods, introduce new technology, new seed varieties, new crops and new farming techniques," he said.
He praised the initiatives implemented by FNU in finding new and innovative ways for agriculture and said the new aquaponics farm would be instrumental in reducing agricultural import bills.
"This centre will not only produce high-end products such as vegetables and herbs to meet local demand but also teach students on how crops can be grown.
"We hope the availability of this knowledge will not only generate new interest amongst our farmers but also get people to invest more in agriculture."
The farm includes horticulture nursery, turf farm, cut flower garden, native plants and vegetable garden beds.
"The site is expected to contain an eco-centre for nature education, an eco-trail, an eco-medication space, a herbal garden containing typical Fijian herbs, children's centre where they will learn the value of the environment while playing.
"The aquaponics site also nurtures fish and plants together in one integrated system."
The system of aquaponics came into effect in early May and all the material for the system has been received from New Zealand.
Col. Seruiratu said the system was good for off-season crops and the first trial was conducted in September for lettuce, beans, chillies and tomatoes.
"It will now venture also into other high value crops like basil and parsley - this has a higher demand in the market."
Meanwhile, the first crop of 80 aquaponics students are expected to graduate next month.