The Ministry of Agriculture has announced a number of Agricultural Support Programs which includes Commercial Agriculture and Food Security and Livelihood Programs that aims to assist farmers in the current financial year.
While making the announcement, Minister Dr. Mahendra Reddy says the assistance programs include Hydroponics Kits, Fencing Kits, Irrigation Kits, Small Farming Equipment Programme, Land Clearing Programme, Farmers Commercial Equity Package, Orchard Development Programme, Home Gardening Programme, Farm Support Programme, Women in Agriculture and Village Nutrition Security Programme.
Dr. Reddy says for the Hydroponics Kits, the Ministry will call for Expression of Interest to set-up 20, 400 plant size hydroponic system at farmers field.
He says each unit will have an estimated cost of $5,500.
The Minister says they will provide the full hydroponic set with required consumables for the first growing cycle.
Dr. Reddy says for the Irrigation Kits, the Ministry will call for Expression of Interest to provide 150 irrigation sets to successful farmers in dry zones in Fiji for agricultural growth and expansion.
He adds each package will be inclusive of irrigation assistance and interested farmers will be required to contribute 20% of the total cost of the system, while the Ministry of Agriculture’s direct contribution will be 80% of the prescribed system.
Dr. Reddy says each kit is estimated to cost around $2,000
The Minister says they will also call for Expression of Interest from 340 livestock farmers to provide start up fencing material so that they can scale up their livestock.
Dr. Reddy further says under the Small Farming Equipment Programme they are looking at assisting 15 farmers and these implements are inclusive of mini-tractors, rotary tillers, front end loader attachments, cutters/shredders, mills and mini-dryers.
Dr. Reddy adds the combined value of machinery that can be bought through this assistance would be at a maximum value of $18,000 per recipient. He says the Farm Support Programme aims to boost production of short-term crops by providing seeds and 10 planting materials to farmers around Fiji.
The Minister says farmers can select the seed which they require from targeted crops like Tomato, Eggplant, Kumala, Taro, Cassava, Rice, Maize, Okra, Pigeon peas, Cowpeas, and Chillies.
Dr. Reddy says they are targeting a total of 14,000 recipients to benefit from this initiative for this financial year.
The Minister adds under the Farmers Commercial Equity Package, farmers, producers and processors are encouraged to seek out commercial agriculture funding from Fiji Development Bank.
He says under their Village Nutrition Security Programme the Ministry is still adamant about covering all villages in Fiji and providing them with fruit tree seedlings for their nutritional requirements.
Dr. Reddy also says this year they have set a target of 400 villages to be provided with these fruit tree seedlings with 3,600 seedlings to be planted per quarter throughout these villages.
He says the Commercial Agriculture Programme is designed to lead Idle Land Development, which has total provision of $500,000 and will see to the immediate clearing of uncultivated land which has been left unattended.
Dr. Reddy says they are targeting around 150 to 160 acres to be brought under cultivation through this programme.
He says one of categories of applicants is that Landowning Units can apply up to have 10 acres of their land cleared and they have set aside $350,000 for this category.
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