February 24, 2022

Picture: Permanent Secretary for Agriculture Vinesh Kumar (4th from left) with the participants.

Conducting research on approaches and developing a community model for land care initiatives in Fiji is vital in order to manage, conserve and improve the country’s land and water resources.

This was the message shared by the Permanent Secretary for Agriculture Vinesh Kumar while opening a 3-day interactive ACIAR Land Care Project Planning workshop at the Fiji National University’s College of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forests Campus in Koronivia on Tuesday. 

He said the collaborative approach was imperative as the support between development partners and the Government was the best way forward to enable the mobilization of stakeholder resources and to gain access to financial assistance to build community resilience and protect natural resources. 

“The need to integrate and work together as a team for the benefit of the future generations is quite imminent.

“The Ministry is, therefore, fully supportive of the Land Care Initiative especially since it demonstrates an effective way to reduce impacts of land degradation. The initiative can build community resilience, protect natural resources and open partnerships for funding and knowledge sharing. 

“The Land Care Approach is conducive to Fiji’s social structure where communities could work together in an integrated way to minimize land degradation but it needs strong and focused Government support to strengthen this approach,” said PS Kumar.

He added that in Fiji, land degradation was currently being addressed on a sectoral and ad-hoc basis, but that it needed to be tackled in a participatory and holistic manner to reduce or minimize its effects.

“Several climate-change adaptive strategies have been identified and practiced and we trust that the Land Care Approach will complement Fijian communities to implement good land-use practices. 

PS Kumar reiterated that care for our natural resources meant caring for our future generations and required highly compatible cross country experiences with mutually understandable cultural and social values, farming practices, land and water challenges and climate-change impacts to be considered impactful at the national level. 

He added that Land Care meant "Qaravi ni Qele (or, Sustainable Soil Management)” in Fijian and the resources management based concept can be undertaken through the “Solesolevaki” concept, meaning working together as a group. Land Care in total: is looking after the land (natural resources) so that our land (natural resources) can in turn look after and sustain us. 

Land Care is a movement of farmer-led organizations supported by local government and technical facilitators and it is believed that the key to effective natural resources management is partnership, where local people, government and relevant agencies work together to address common issues and concerns.

At the completion of the 3-day workshop, participants are expected to be able to adopt sustainable farming practices including the development of Land Care groups that will influence waste management initiatives to be implemented at the community level.