Organic on a farm

WITH interest growing in the organic farming sector, the Agriculture Ministry has placed its focus on supporting younger farmers who are interested in starting up their organic farms.

Described as a method of farming that does not use pesticides, fertiliser and growth hormones, organic farmed products have become a popular choice for many locals as well as for export.

Agriculture Minister Inia Seruiratu says organic agriculture has huge potential to become a money earner for farmers and exporters alike because of its high demand on the local and international markets.

“The demand stems from the health conscious approach phenomenon by most consumers who are willing to pay more for organically produced products,” he said.

“This has seen an increased interest in organic farming each year and we need to keep pace with this development so we can market truly Fijian grown products with nothing but natural inputs.”

He says one of the ways through which this could be achieved was by combining modern business practices with science and mechanisation.

To better train young and aspiring farmers in the field of agriculture, the Nasau Training Centre has been established in Sigatoka.

According to Mr Seruiratu, farming was something that had evolved from science into management, finance, leadership and business.

Typical organic farming practices include:

* Wide crop rotation as a prerequisite for an efficient use of on-site resources;

* Very strict limits on chemical synthetic pesticide and synthetic fertiliser use, livestock antibiotics, food additives and processing aids and other inputs;

* Absolute prohibition of the use of genetically modified organisms;

* Taking advantage of on-site resources, such as livestock manure for fertiliser or feed produced on the farm;

* Choosing plant and animal species that are resistant to disease and adapted to local conditions;

* Raising livestock in free-range, open-air systems and providing them with organic feed; and

* Using animal husbandry practices appropriate to different livestock species

Source: European Commission Agriculture and Rural Development

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