Agri­cul­ture Ex­perts Weigh in Why Sec­tor Needs a Boost Af­ter Tourism Col­lapses

Fiji Sun - - BUSINESS - Feed­back: jennis.naidu@fi­

“The min­istry is al­ways com­plain­ing of be­ing un­der-re­sourced. No ve­hi­cles, no fuel, lack of ex­ten­sion of­fi­cers.

“This fig­ure will roll out through the year, and pro­vide so­lu­tions for all this,” he said.

Mr Tora was a rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the fruit and veg­etable in­dus­try among the agri­cul­tural pan­elists.

He is a com­mer­cial sug­ar­cane farmer who has di­ver­si­fied the hor­ti­cul­tural crops into agri­tourism, a farmer leader, and chair­man of Na­ture’s Way Prop­erty.

Lavinia Kau­maito­toya

Farmer and Pro­gramme Man­ager Pa­cific Is­land Farm­ers Or­gan­i­sa­tion Net­work Lavinia Kau­maito­toya said that there needs to be more schol­ar­ships avail­able for agri­cul­ture.

“I think there are not enough schol­ar­ships for agri­cul­ture and we need to in­vest more in agri­cul­tural schol­ar­ships.”

Ms Kau­maito­toya said that chil­dren and stu­dent do not see the po­ten­tial of agri­cul­ture, and in or­der for them to fully see the po­ten­tial of it, it needs to be made more dig­i­tal.

“We need more botanists, vets, plants sci­en­tists, soil sci­en­tists.

“When chil­dren or stu­dents think about agri­cul­ture, they think it is about get­ting their hands dirty, but there are ac­tu­ally ex­cit­ing jobs. “We need to make cooler and sex­ier for youths; to have dig­i­tal plat­forms, and make it smart for them,” Ms Kau­maito­toya said. Ms Kau­maito­toya shared a per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ence of show­ing the ben­e­fits of farm­ing while har­vest­ing wa­ter­mel­ons to her chil­dren.

She high­lighted the need for a dif­fer­ent mar­ket­ing strat­egy for farm­ing.

“I showed my chil­dren the gross mar­gins for farm­ing.

“We planted wa­ter­mel­ons, try­ing to get them to plant them and it was not un­til we were har­vest­ing, they saw the ben­e­fits.

“They started ask­ing ques­tions like, how many did we plant? How much did we make? How many ki­los?” Ms Kau­maito­toya shared. “When they see the money, they get ex­cited. “So we need to pack­age it dif­fer­ently, it is all about mar­ket­ing, not the punch­line as­pect, but the monies.”

Kyle Stice

Gen­eral Man­ager Nadi Bay Herbs Kyle Stice has said that to grow in or­der to make more money, do­mes­tic mar­kets are very risky whereas ex­ports pro­vide more sus­tain­abil­ity.

“We have all seen in the last cou­ple of weeks, the price of leafy veg­eta­bles and cu­cum­bers have dropped rapidly and will con­tinue to drop. So if you are plant­ing Chi­nese cab­bages and cu­cum­bers to make money, you will be se­verely dis­ap­pointed,” he said.

He said with ex­ports there is more sta­bil­ity since there are no huge in­creases or de­creases to prices.

“Prices do not have th­ese huge in­creases and de­creases so liveli­hoods, for in­come-gen­er­a­tion, ex­ports pro­vide a re­ally good op­por­tu­nity for farm­ers to grow and sell the ex­cess.”

Photo: Re­set Fiji Face­book

(From left to right) Gen­eral Man­ager Nadi Bay Herbs Kyle Stice, Chair of Na­ture’s Way Co­op­er­a­tive Com­mer­cial Farmer and Farmer Leader, Ratu Li­vai Tora, Agri­cul­tur­ist, Wah Sing Yee, Re­set Fiji host, Stan­ley Simp­son, Farmer and Pro­gramme Man­ager Pa­cific Is­land Farm­ers Or­gan­i­sa­tion Net­work, Lavinia Kau­maito­toya and Agri­cul­tural Econ­o­mist, An­drew McGre­gor.

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