Posts tagged Agriculture

SPEECH: HON. PRIME MINISTER JOSAIA VOREQE BAINIMARAMA AT THE OPENING OF A NEW DORMITORY AT NAVUSO AGRICULTURE SCHOOL

Bula vinaka and a very good afternoon to you all.

I’m delighted to be here in Navuso today to mark another significant event in the rejuvenation of this once great institution. And to lend my personal support to help Navuso resume the position it deserves in our national life.

I am not just here to open the new boy’s hostel, but to encourage you all to pursue the excellence that we all know this place is capable of. Because it was once great and we are determined to make it great again.

Over many years, the Methodist Church in Fiji and Rotuma has done the nation a great service by producing many young farmers to contribute to Fiji’s agricultural base. Someone of my age can recall that in the 1960s and 70s – for instance -Navuso was a highly respected institution.

Indeed, one of its former principals, Douglas Walkden-Brown, eventually became Minister for Agriculture in the Fijian Government after Independence.

That tradition continued for some years. But over time, I think we can all agree that Navuso lost its way. This was a great shame. Because that neglect was not only at the cost of the livelihood of many ordinary Fijians with an ambition to take up farming, but the nation’s food production as a whole.

As we all know and recognise, my Government’s relationship with the Methodist Church hasn’t always been easy. In fact, we have had some strong differences over the Church’s proper role in national life. And I still think that far too many talatalas are more intent on playing politics than catering for the spiritual needs of our people.

But I am sure we all agree that it is important to give our young people the best possible chance to gain the skills they need to make sustainable and prosperous livelihoods for themselves in the farming sector and contribute to the nation’s food production.

We also agree that it is simply not acceptable for Fiji to continue to import foodstuffs that could easily be grown in here – and even exported – if we make a determined effort to work together to give our young people the right training to expand our food production.

So today, I want to emphasise our unity of purpose – not our differences – when I say that the Government fully supports Navuso’s core objective to train farmers for one of Fiji’s most important priorities.

We must give more Fijians the opportunity to enter the agricultural sector by equipping them with the best possible skills and training. We must offer them the prospect of making healthy and sustainable livings for themselves, their families, and through that, the wider community. And we must all focus our minds on reducing our dependency on food exports and making Fiji a powerhouse of food production.

We are doing this as a Government with a range of scholarships and incentives – notably working with the Fiji National University – to attract more young Fijians into farming. And we intend to assist Navuso Agricultural School to do the same.

In March 2013, I promised that we would assist Navuso to improve its infrastructure. And the opening of this new dormitory today is a promise fulfilled.

To the young people who are students here, I have much the same message that I take to schools and colleges around the country. Take advantage of the education revolution that this Government has provided – working hand in hand with institutions like the Methodist Church – to seize the opportunities that have been given to you. Work as hard as you can. Dream big dreams. Reach for the stars.

But also be aware of this: By wanting to be a farmer, my Government regards you as one of the most important development partners we have in improving the lives of our people and developing our economy.

When I say dream big dreams, it is no longer enough just to tend your own plot – your own teitei – to grow crops or rear animals for your own needs and the needs of your community. We need to move Fiji in the direction of larger scale food production. And that means acquiring new skills as you move through your studies.

You need to learn not only how to grow things and rear animals, but the more commercial aspects of farming. How to market your produce more effectively; turn your activity into a serious business; expand your potential to make more income for yourself; provide employment for others who don’t have the advantage of your training, and help grow the Fijian economy.

Farming is a business like any other. And with hard work and imagination, you too can be a successful businessman or businesswoman and contribute to the wealth and prosperity of the Fijian people.

I pay tribute to the current management and staff of Navuso for sharing these principles. I’m told that your curriculum has become a lot more holistic and business-orientated. At the end of the program here, trainee farmers will be provided with proper business plans for farms of their own that they can take to a bank to get funding.

I urge everyone to ensure that these plans are viable, realistic and factually based to give you all the best possible chance of success. Too often in the past, farming businesses have failed because they haven’t met the proper standards.

We all need – as stakeholders in our economy – to adopt the best practice of any business – integrity, transparency and accountability. Because the more successful trainee farmers we can produce, the more our banks – as well as potential investors – will be prepared to provide the necessary finance.

My Government – working with the Methodist Church – will do everything it can to help you. But success or failure is ultimately down to you.

So again I say: Work hard. Seek the best possible advice from your teachers, read more about best practice in agriculture, take advantage of my Government’s Telecentres and other tools you have access to – to explore the world of knowledge about farming and give yourself the best possible shot at success.

Thank you to all of you who have made this new hostel possible. I now have great pleasure to officially declare it open.

Vinakavakalevu. Thank you.

PM LIFTS AGRICULTURAL MORATORIUM

Prime Minister Bainimarama has lifted the moratorium on agricultural land to allow ordinary Fijians the option to use agricultural land for other productive purposes, including the option to build new homes.

“Fijians will now be able to apply to convert agricultural land for residential, commercial or industrial use,” the Prime Minister said.

The Prime Minister cited Fiji’s urban growth as an area where Fijians will benefit from his Government’s decision to lift the moratorium.

“With the growth of our towns and cities, surrounding land is best utilised for residential, commercial or industrial use, and now Fijians will have the freedom to take advantage of this,” he said.

The Prime Minister also pointed out that there are many Fijians who currently live on agricultural land who are unable to build new homes for themselves and their families.

“These individuals will now be able to build new homes and receive a legal title, greatly enhancing their sense of security.”

However, the Prime Minister stressed that the decision to lift the moratorium would in no way threaten the amount of land available for agricultural.

“Through my Government’s initiative, the Committee for the Better Utilisation of Land (CBUL), more agricultural leases than ever are now being renewed and there is and will remain a very large pool of land available for agricultural.”

The Prime Minister said that if land is used productively, then everyone wins.

“The value of land will increase as it becomes available for productive use, allowing landowners to achieve a higher rate of return. Access to permanent housing will increase for ordinary Fijians. And there will be more opportunities for investors. “

Fijian Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama’s Speech at the Opening of the Korovuto Irish Crossing

Bula Vinaka and good afternoon to you all.

I am very happy to be with you in Korovuto to officially open the new Mate Road Bridge.

Today marks a new beginning for this community. Your old crossing was severely damaged after the 2007 and 2009 floods, which as we all know devastated the Western Division.

These floods – and the two last year – destroyed crops, homes and businesses. It also had a severe impact on the day to day lives of the Fijians living in this community.

The damage to the bridge was left unattended, and the people have suffered for it. When this matter was brought to my attention several months ago, I immediately understood the urgency of the problem

This bridge is a life-line for the people who rely on it. It provides hundreds of Fijians access to towns and hospitals. It provides children access to schools. And it provides farmers access to markets.

In Korovuto, the main industry is sugar. The sugar cane growers rely on this bridge to transport their cane to Lautoka Mill.

To the sugar farmers here today:

I urge you to make the most of this bridge. Currently, the local productivity per hectare is low.

You need to work with FSC and the Ministry for Sugar to implement best practices, and possibly introduce new varieties of sugar cane.

Under the Sugarcane Industry Strategic Action Plan, our national target is 47 tonnes per hectare in 2013 and 70 tonnes per hectare by 2017. There is no reason that the farmers in this area cannot meet those targets with the right guidance, assistance and attitude. If we are focused and we remove the politics from sugar we can achieve these targets even sooner.

To all of you here today:

I urge you to look for new ways to make productive use of this new bridge, whether it’s opening up new land for sugar cultivation, commercially farming other crops or rearing livestock. The $269,000 spent by Government is a small price compared to the many exciting new economic opportunities this bridge will afford you.

As I have said many times before, my Government’s most important task is to deliver better services to the Fijian people.

We all know how easy it is to make promises. For too many former politicians, promises were just words used to win government.

My Government is different. Whether it is building new schools, roads and bridges or fixing up old ones; whether it is providing new services or making the existing services run better; whether it is supporting the old industries that Fijians rely on for a living or helping create new ones.

Our commitment to the Fijian people is etched in each cinder block of that new school and paved in each meter of that new road or bridge. All these projects serve as visible reminders that we the Government are accountable to you the people.

As many of you may know, last week I announced the draft constitution for Fiji.

I am encouraged by much of the discussion and debate that has begun to take place, but I am also concerned by the efforts of some individuals and NGOs who are trying to misrepresent and mislead.

I encourage each of you to read the draft constitution for yourselves. You need to make up your own mind

I am personally very proud of the draft constitution. For the first time in Fiji’s history it guarantees socio-economic rights for every Fijian.

What are these? These include rights to housing and sanitation, reasonable access to transportation, education, adequate food, clean water, a just minimum wage, social security schemes, health services and sanitation. And they also include specific rights for children and the disabled.

Day-to-day issues such as these were the focus of many submissions made by ordinary Fijians to the Ghai Commission. That is why I am so proud they are included in the draft

This is your Constitution. It ensures that power lies with Parliament, which is elected and accountable to you the people. There is even a provision that allows for a referendum. None of Fiji’s previous constitutions has ever given so much direct power to the will of the people.

It creates a Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission and an Accountability and Transparency Commission. None of Fiji’s previous constitutions has ever created such bodies to keep public officials, civil servants and parliamentarians accountable and create transparency.

These provisions together with others will enable the Constitution to stand the test of time and will make it an enduring foundation for a new Fiji.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I would now like to thank all those involved with this project, including the team at the Ministry of Sugar and Returned Services League (RSL) and the Agro Development Corporation.

I would also like to acknowledge the many former members of the RFMF who worked on this project, whose commitment to the Fijian people has lasted even after their service has ended.

Ladies and Gentlemen, it is now my great pleasure to officially open the Mate Road Bridge.

Vinaka vakalevu. Thank you.

Fijian Government to Provide Assistance to the Navuso Agricultural School in Nausori: PM Bainimarama

As part of the commitment to strengthen Fiji’s agricultural sector including the need to build capacity, government will now provide assistance to the Navuso Agricultural school in Nausori.

The Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama today visited the school to identify ways that government can improve conditions including the resources used by students.

During his visit, the head of government highlighted to management and students on government’s intentions towards strengthening the agriculture sector.

“The important places that we are looking at developing are the student’s dormitories, the piggery and the school’s milking shed,” PM Bainimarama said.

“We have to relocate the piggery and the milking shed if we want to improve the production standard of these school projects,” the Prime Minister said.

He also stressed that sanitation was an important factor that both management and students need to focus on.

“Since everything begins with the students; their dormitories and surroundings need to be clean.”

“We will provide water blasters and brush cutters to be used by the students to help keep their school clean and improve sanitation,” PM Bainimarama said.

Navuso Agricultural School manager Reverend Malakai Tuikadavu was extremely pleased with the visit by the Prime Minister and government officials today.

“I regard this visit by the Prime Minister as a blessing for existing students in the agriculture programme. I am also very thankful that the PM is committed towards carrying out developments here in Navuso,” Rev Tuikadavu said.

There are currently 65 students enrolled with the agricultural programme.

Fijian Prime Minister Bainimarama Awards Agriculture Scholarship