Partnership to strengthen rice industry

Economic and Commercial Councillor Embassy of the Peoples Republic of China in Fiji Li Zhi and Deputy Secretary Agriculture Development Jone Sovalawa. Picture: SUPPLIED

FIJI’S Ministry of Agriculture recently signed a contract with a Chinese company in an effort to strengthen Fiji’s rice industry.

The ministry sealed the deal with Yuan Longping High – Tech Agriculture Company Ltd to continue with the second phase of the rice project between the two countries.

As part of the contract, a number of Chinese rice experts specialising in different fields will work closely with agriculture officials in Fiji which will see planting experiment and promotion of high quality hybrid rice varieties from China.

Ministry of Agriculture’s deputy secretary (agriculture development) Jone Sovalawa said the ministry of Agriculture was ready to work together with the Chinese team to ensure the rice production is increased and expanded to potential rice growing areas in Vanua Levu and Viti Levu.

He also thanked the Government of the People’s Republic of China for the past assistance and cordial relationship between the two countries – particularly the Ministry of Agriculture in relation to rice development and capacity building program over the last five years.

During the Phase II of the project, a specialised machinery expert will also be part of the team who will look into the issues in regards to machinery repairs and availability of spare parts.

It is also expected that seed quality system will be established and also provide agro inputs/spare parts and technical services to the Fiji National Rice Breeding Laboratory.

Mr Sovalawa said two new hybrid rice varieties would also be introduced which would assist in maximising rice production.

“I look forward to a successful partnership between the Chinese Experts and Ministry of Agriculture rice team in lifting Fiji’s rice sector to a new level,” he said.

Fiji continues to import about $40million worth of rice every year and Ministry of Agriculture is fully confident that cooperation like this will assist in the increased rice production in Fiji.