THE government says new varieties of rice are needed ito increase the rice production volume in Fiji.
Fiji imports between $45million and $50m worth of rice annually, and Minister for Agriculture Lieutenant Colonel Inia Seruiratu says rice is one of the ministry's targeted commodities this year.
However, he adds there are plans to decrease the import levels of commodities such as rice which can be produced locally.
"We need to change the rice varieties we currently have," he said.
"The current rice varieties available in Fiji are quite good because of their adaptability to the weather and conditions in the country. However, if we are to increase the volume of rice production, we need to introduce new improved varieties of rice."
Lt-Col Seruiratu said the government was working with partners in China, namely the Yuan Pong high tech centre, which is also known as the "father of high breed rice".
"We will be introducing machinery and labour to improve the production rate since most of our young generation are not interested in rice farming.
"Rewa Rice Limited has its own strategies in place to improve mill productivity as they have been waiting for the completion of the three-phase grid line to improve mill performance. The farmers will not produce if the mill does not produce and they will therefore reconsider their plans."
Lt-Col Seruiratu said they would introduce a fertiliser subsidy program this year.
"Hopefully, these programs and efforts will improve the production of rice locally."