Agriculture leads the way in TC Yasa & Ana Response

March 26, 2021

Picture : Ministry of Agriculture staff that participated at the workshop

The senior management of the Ministry of Agriculture expressed appreciation to its officers who sacrificed their time with families to conduct damage assessments in Vanua Levu and the Eastern Division after TC Yasa and Ana.

In speaking to the officers of the Ministry during a one-day workshop on lessons learnt from TC’s Yasa and Ana on Wednesday (24.3.21), Permanent Secretary for Agriculture, Mr Ritesh Dass said there were moments of great pride in leading the team.

“In my view, the greatest achievement of this period was to witness our potential when we come together and work towards a common goal.

“Data from Statistics, seeds from Research, Extension teams deployed across the affected areas working closely with affected farmers, vets and livestock officers addressing the needs of stricken animals, pests and disease control, communication and messaging, logistics of mobilizing our teams and vehicles, Finance for ensuring the operations functioned smoothly and in line with our procedures.”

The Permanent Secretary said each division with its specific mandate and expertise contributed to a joint purpose and there were many ‘firsts’ for the Ministry.

“It was the first time we used digital data collection as part of impact assessment, first time we had the statistics team firmly driving our evidence based response and recovery activities, first time we collaborated so closely with the National Disaster Management Office (NDMO) and other clusters, first time we used meteorological and agriculture census baseline data to generate an Initial Damage Assessment (IDA),” he said.

The second area he acknowledged, was when he presented to the Emergency Committee every morning on the needs and response, he was proud that it was firmly grounded in evidence.

He explained the IDA Report was completed in three days, 19,000 household interviews were conducted for the Detailed Damage Assessment (DDA), the kobotoolbox was trialed for the first time which led to the NDMO adopting it, a comprehensive Detailed Damage Assessment report was produced, a recovery framework was prepared and a $10m rehabilitation plan designed, coordinating and implementing the Ministry’s cluster partners down to locality level for rehebilitation contributions, and record and ability to map all assistance provided.

Mr Dass said the final key area of recognition was “the incredible dedication of our MoA staff”.

“Many of you had to sacrifice Christmas and New Years with your families to support our operations in the North.

“Conditions were tough, no showers and difficult sleeping arrangements, but it was heartening to see the enthusiasm and dedication of the MoA teams,” he said.

He said at the end of the workshop he hoped four outcomes would be achieved; 1) a recognition of what the Ministry did well and to celebrate it; 2) an understanding of where the Ministry faced challenges; 3) a series of recommendations to improve preparedness and response and 4) updated SOPs and guidelines to assist us in effectively managing our disaster response in the future.