Parliament: Fiji is in top 15 climate vulnerable countries

FAO Director General Jose Graziano da Silva during the signing of the Resilience Project Agreement with Minister for Agriculture, Rural and Maritime Development, NDMO and Meteorological Services, Hon. Inia Seruiratu in Nadi April 13. Picture: FIJIAN GOVERNMENT

FIJI is one of fifteen of the world’s most vulnerable countries terms of exposure to changing weather patterns.

This formed the basis of a project funded by the European Union and implemented by the Food and Agriculture Organisation in Fiji’s Agricultural sector to the tune of over FJD $7m.

Speaking in parliament this morning, Minister for Agriculture, Rural and Maritime Development, NDMO and Meteorological Services, Inia Seruiratu said the project had two main themes;

  • Improve climate risk ID and management
  • Climate Smart & Climate Sensitive Agriculture

Mr Seruiratu was responding to a request from another member of parliament, Howard Politini who asked for detailed explanation of the project.

Citing what he said was a United Nations Risk Report published in 2014 which puts Vanuatu at the top of 15 vulnerable countries and Fiji not far behind, the minister said Fiji’s main risks came from cyclones, storm surges, flooding and the potential impacts of climate change.

“In Fiji the impacts are particularly on the agricultural sector. Very important for obvious reasons not only for food security but also for how it affects households and of course the agricultural sectors contribution to the economy,” he said.

Signed on April 13 at the FAO Regional Conference for Asia and the Pacific in Fiji in Nadi, the agreement is entitled ‘Strengthening climate resilience of communities for food and nutrition security’ and will involve the  Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Rural Development, particularly the National Disaster Management Office.

The project is also being implement in other Pacific regional countries, the minister told Parliament.

Mr Seruiratu who is also the high level champion on climate change said this latest project is part of Fiji’s partnership with the UN’s FAO which he said goes back 15 years specifically aimed at addressing agricultural development.

Oppposition MP, Dr. Biman Prasad asked Minister Seruiratu if there was a specific plan and timeframe to achieving climate resilience in the agriculture sector to which the minister said he would make a later statement to explain what he called the sectors ‘yoyo’ performance.

“Hopefully this week, through a ministerial statement, I will highlight how disaster has seriously affected the performance of the agricultural sector so members can understand,” he said.

The three year project runs from 2018 – 2020 with a USD$3.3m and will include the recruitment of 150 staff and volunteers to train farmers and stakeholders.