Minister for Agriculture, Dr Mahendra Reddy is calling on all sugarcane and vegetable farmers nationwide to help reduce the country’s rice import bill by allocating at least one acre of their land to plant rice.
He made this call while handing over a portable rice mill each to two rice farming clusters in Rewasa, Rakiraki and Benai, Ba.
Dr. Reddy says the value of Fiji’s rice import bill was staggeringly high, standing at $41 million, with farmers having the opportunity to contribute towards increasing Fiji’s foreign reserves by growing rice for their consumption, or as a cash crop.
Reddy says 84% of rice is imported and we are only producing 16% of it in Fiji, and he sees no reason why Fiji cannot reverse this figure and produce 84% here and import the remaining.
Reddy says they have decided to promote the rain-fed and the 100-day short-term varieties of rice and not the long-term varieties.
He says if anyone wants to grow the traditional variety, they should do so at their own expense, as the harvester cannot handle the large rice plants.
Benai Rice Farmers’ Cluster representative, Rajeshwar Singh says all farmers within the area would benefit from the portable rice mill assistance.
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