$1.5m allocation for mechanisation program

A mechanical harvester harvests cane at Lomowai, Sigatoka. Picture: FILE/BALJEET SINGH

A total of $1.5 million has been allocated by the Ministry of Agriculture for its mechanisation program.

Minister for Agriculture Mahendra Reddy said the mechanisation initiative boosted exports from the sector recently.

“In recent years, we have seen that one of the major drivers for increased productivity in the agriculture sector has been mechanisation,” Mr Reddy said.

“As such, the ministry this year has allocated a total of $1.5 million.

“$1.16 million is allocated to 30 farming clusters and co-operatives to purchase 25 tractors and five diggers.

“This initiative is on a one third farmer contribution and two thirds government support basis.”

He said Fiji imported 80 per cent of its rice at present.

“Recently, the ministry has invested a lot of resources into increasing the local production 16 per cent to around 22 per cent.

“This initiative is open to registered farmer co-operatives and clusters. This is again provided on a one-third farmer contribution and two-thirds government support basis.”

He added that organic farming was also a program that would be receiving funding this year.

“Organic farming assistance program aims to assist individuals venturing into organic farming. This will ensure safe production of crops and reduce the use of synthetic chemicals to protect our environment.”

The ministry will provide bio-fertilisers and bio-pesticides for this program.

“The initiative is allocated $40,000 to support 10 organic farms to produce organically grown products.”

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