UN Agency promotes “farming as a business” in Fiji

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UN Agency promotes “farming as a business” in Fiji

A rural development project was launched today by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the government of Fiji that promises to reduce poverty and increase incomes for 2,225 rural households in the highlands of Viti Levu, the largest of Fiji’s 330 islands.

A financial agreement for the Fiji Agricultural Partnerships Project was signed by Kanayo F. Nwanze, President of IFAD, and Inia Batikoto Seruiratu, Minister for Agriculture, Rural and Maritime Development and Natural Disaster Management of the Republic of Fiji. IFAD is co-financing the project by providing a US$3.52 million loan. The total cost of the project will be $6.1 million, disbursed over a five year period.

Fiji imports about 90 per cent of all food sold in supermarkets and much of the food required for the tourist industry. Because of its remote location, food import costs are high, as are rates of obesity. Due in part to the poor nutritional quality of imported food, close to 40 per cent of all adults in Fiji are considered obese.

The project will support smallholder farmers grow more food, improve their business skills and be in a better position to engage with markets in Fiji. The project will also help to provide poor households with increased access to nutritious, locally grown food.

“Our development objective is to help small scale agricultural producers in the highlands to engage in farming as a business,” said Chase Palmeri, IFAD Country Programme Manager for Fiji. “We would like to see at least 50 per cent of farming households go beyond subsistence farming and regularly market their products to trading or processing enterprises. This would include supplying produce to hotels and restaurants.”

In Fiji there is a strong demand for domestically produced agricultural products, however, agricultural value chains are underdeveloped and commercial relationships are weak. Though agriculture employs 70 per cent of the labour force, it accounts for only eight per cent of the nation’s GDP. Over one third of Fiji’s population lives in poverty. The project will promote effective policies to strengthen the private-agribusiness sector and increase income and rural employment opportunities.

The Fiji Government has just launched the Fiji 2020 Agricultural Sector Policy Agenda, which seeks to pursue sustainable development with an inclusive approach.  The project builds on the government’s objectives and will serve as an incentive for the private sector to engage with smallholder farmers, and to invest in the country’s ailing agriculture sector.

Since 1982, IFAD has invested $28 million in 29 projects in 13 countries in the Pacific Islands, benefitting over one million people.

Press release No.: IFAD/80/2015

IFAD invests in rural people, empowering them to reduce poverty, increase food security, improve nutrition and strengthen resilience. Since 1978, we have provided about US$17 billion in grants and low-interest loans to projects that have reached some 453 million people. IFAD is an international financial institution and a specialized United Nations agency based in Rome – the UN’s food and agriculture hub.