$900k used to revamp drainage systems

Minister for Agriculture Dr Mahendra Reddy. Picture: FT FILE/RAMA

THE Ministry of Waterways spent $900,000 on the refurbishment of irrigation drainage systems in the North last year.

Waterways Minister Dr Mahendra Reddy said this budget included irrigation drainage maintenance works on Dreketi, Muanidevo and Korokadi.

Dr Reddy said for the first time last year, the ministry set aside money for rural residential drainage and rural infield drainage.

“We had money for drainage systems and money to maintain our irrigation systems specifically rice farming,” he said.

“Rice farming areas under irrigation is being well looked after.

“It took seven months for the completion of drainage works in the North last year, which included the refurbishment of floodgates, drainage system, and water canals.

“After next year, we will see if we need any other major maintenance in the country’s drainage systems.”

Dr Reddy said smaller maintenance works were in progress around the country.

“We don’t have a budget for non-irrigation areas under our scheme but we have an allocation for in-field drainage and farmlands,” he said.

“This means that the budget will not only be utilised for maintenance of rice irrigation systems but all other agriculture commodities including sugar too.

“For the first time, Fiji’s answer to boosting its rice productivity lays in the rehabilitation of existing irrigation systems in rice farms around the country.”

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Agriculture’s 2020 Agriculture Sector Policy Agenda stated that Fiji’s answer to boosting its rice productivity lays in the rehabilitation of existing irrigation systems in rice farms around the country.

As part of its agenda, the ministry stated that if rice farming communities increased their yield to six tonnes per hectare from the present two tonnes, the industry would become competitive.

The policy paper stated at present, the low yield was not because of the existing environmental condition, but the application of poor management practices.

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