Agronomy development

Maritime Development, Waterways and Environment Hon. Mahendra Reddy and Professor Paul Iji after officiating at the Statement of Cooperation Between Ministry of Agriculture and College of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (CAFF) at Raiwaqa yesterday. Picture: JONA KONATACI

A STATEMENT of cooperation between the Ministry of Agriculture and the Fiji National University’s College of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (CAFF) will see a strengthening of the sector through research and innovation, including policy recommendations and strategic direction to improve the industry.

The agreement was signed between Minister for Agriculture Dr Mahendra Reddy and CAFF dean Professor Paul Iji yesterday.

“We need further research and development on agronomy, horticulture, soil science, livestock production, veterinary science, plant pathology and value addition all essentially aimed at climate proofing our agriculture sector,” said Dr Reddy.

He said with its academic expertise, FNU was the best-placed institution to provide technical support and much-needed research to bolster the agriculture sector.

“The FNU, jointly with MoA shall provide the innovation and research that are essential to implement our agriculture policy documents.

“The MoA has the resources, facilities and essential data to foster agricultural research. This co-operation shall see FNU use these resources and provide sector guidance and technical expertise to ensure sustainable development of our agriculture sector,” he said.

Meanwhile Dr Reddy also revealed that a think tank, comprising experts from FNU, University of the South Pacific and other institutions, would be set up by early next year and they would be responsible to provide technical expertise on how to improve the agriculture sector in Fiji.

Prof Iji said they believed that the 10 per cent contribution of agricultural industries to the gross domestic product of Fiji was a far cry from the potential contribution that sector could make to the national economy.

He said they were of the opinion that the full potential of the industries could be realised through stronger research and extension collaboration between all the stakeholders, particularly between the responsible ministries and the large research base at FNU.

“We are convinced that Fiji should be a net exporter, rather than an importer of food and other agricultural goods,” he said.

“We look forward to the day that Fiji will be the food basket of the Pacific, with more to export to other parts of the world that are not as fortunate in terms of physical and political climate,” he said.

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