‘People understand context clearly’

Minister for Agriculture and Waterways, Vatimi Rayalu, left, accomapnied by Assistant Minister for i-Taukei Affairs Isikeli Tuiwailevu during the Parliament sitting at the Parliament complex in Suva on Monday, February 13, 2023. Picture: JONACANI LALAKOBAU

Agriculture Minister Vatimi Rayalu says Pacific people understand their context clearly – the potential they have for trade with their rich resources and the existing barriers they face because of the region’s geographical location and socioeconomic history and politics.

He mentioned this in Nadi recently at the managing agricultural risks to enhance PacificAgri trade event side event, which was part of the week-long Pacific Week of Agriculture.

“This discussion on managing agricultural risks comes at a crucial time as the Pacific works towards COVID-19 recovery,” Mr Rayalu said.

“The climate change crisis and natural disasters are events most of us here in the region are painfully aware of and acknowledge as one of the greatest risks to our agriculture sector.

“In fact, at this time, we are navigating through our cyclone season from November to April. We’ve already seen several incidences of adverse weather recently tropical cyclones, flooding and earthquakes.”

The Fiji Government, the minister explained, has begun developing agricultural initiatives to address these important issues affecting local food production with a focus on indigenous and traditional food that could withstand climate change and offer nutritious meals for the local populace.

He also shared that the Agriculture Ministry encourages and promotes sustainable agricultural practices and is working towards addressing unregulated unsustainable practices that are contributing to the increase in soil erosion and sedimentation.

“The Ministry is also working with development partners and SPC through several projects to boost agriculture and improve access to overseas markets.”

One such project is the Safe Agricultural Trade Facilitation through Economic Integration project (SAFE PACIFIC) funded by the European Union that is being implemented in 15 Pacific countries to strengthen the regional capacity for Trade and address barriers to accessing markets.

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