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May 2024

Rice production strategy

Agriculture Minister Vatimi Rayalu speaking in Parliament. Picture: PARLIAMENT OF FIJI

To reduce the import bill and boost the volume and quality of rice production in Fiji, there is a need to train local rice farmers and ministry extension officers, says Agriculture and Waterways Minister Vatimi Rayalu.

Mr Rayalu said there was also a need to transform rice farming households from subsistence level to semi commercial and commercial farming levels.

He said the current production of rice in Fiji stood around 8300 tonnes with a land area of 2445 hectares and self-sufficiency level of 20 per cent.

“A rice survey conducted by the Ministry of Agriculture in 2023 revealed that 1699 households in Fiji are involved in rice cultivation,” Mr Rayalu said.

“The Northern Division accounts for 75 per cent, followed by 22 per cent in the Western Division and 3 per cent in the Central Division. At least 84 per cent of local rice farmers were interested in planting improved varieties developed by the ministry’s research division.

“In the 1980s, Fiji achieved around 66 per cent self-sufficiency in rice production and with the current agroclimatic conditions, excelling further is not impossible.

“It is also encouraging to note that 68 per cent of rice farmers are now using mechanical harvesters to harvest rice, while 46.8 per cent were still using the sickle.”

Mr Rayalu said the ministry’s research division would need to work on the consumption preferences of rice of local people.

“I understand that most of our local people prefer imported rice compared to locally produced rice varieties, due to its taste and texture.

“This is an issue that we, as a ministry, will have to address in collaboration with other stakeholders.” QR Code

Published Date: April 12, 2024

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