March 31, 2022

Picture: Hon. Dr Mahendra Reddy with the recipients of the beef fencing materials

The Ministry of Agriculture earlier this week gave away 51 beef cattle fencing kit materials to successful applicants throughout the Western Division as an incentive for them to develop towards becoming commercial livestock farmers.

When addressing the recipients from Nadi, Ba, Tavua and Rakiraki, Minister for Agriculture, Waterways and Environment Hon. Dr Mahendra Reddy highlighted the declined state of the local beef industry, calling upon the recipients to play their part in reversing this trend.

“I want to let you know that this year we are giving fencing materials to 260 beef cattle farmers in Fiji, never before have we ever assisted this many farmers in one year.

“We plan to see 260 commercial beef cattle farmers in Fiji. Some people say that all of them won’t survive, they’ll just erect the fence and they will say, that’s it, the cattle are inside, they’ll grow, easy but that isn't how it is supposed,” said Hon. Reddy.

“We are giving you the opportunity, we’re giving you the benefit of a doubt, you prove to us that you have what it takes to go commercial, we want to develop you, we want you to put in an additional paddock and say in the next financial year, if you’re successful if you tick all those boxes, we will give you matching fencing materials, you buy 2 coils of barbed wire, we will give you 2 coils of barbed wire, you buy 10 pine posts, we will give you 10 pine posts and we will establish a stockyard,” he explained.

“But the truth is, our abattoir in Nakasi is closed for 3 days because we don’t have enough cattle to slaughter, so let’s see how many cattle you can supply to the abattoir and then you tell us, I operate a model farm, can you help me to grow big because we don’t want to import any beef meat from Australia or New Zealand and we want all hotels to talk to the abattoir to provide them with all the cuts that they want, why should we import from Australia and New Zealand, when we want to export to neighbouring countries in the Pacific,” he stated.

Minister Reddy stressed that the Government was trying its best to revive and develop the livestock sector but in its capacity as the facilitator, the onus remained on the farmers to drive the sector’s development.

“We are starting a revolution with regards to livestock production but in this revolution, we are just the facilitator, we are giving you the technical advice, the initial leverage.

“You are the ones responsible for it to grow because you are the farmers. We’ve poured millions of dollars into failed schemes in our attempts to bolster the local beef industry in Fiji but investing in failed schemes has to stop and we are hoping that you succeed, we hope that from this lot of 260 farmers, at least 100 farmers can eventually become large scale commercial beef cattle farmers.

For Tavua beef farmer Mr Fesaitu Taukave Manue, the Beef Extension Programme was the required boost he was after as there was a constant need to herd his cattle as they tended to wander off long distances.

“There is always the issue of underdeveloped paddocks for cattle farming and I as a beef farmer can attest that it takes hard work to gather all the animals in one location but with the fencing kit materials I’ve received today, I can now look forward to setting it up so I can set plans to grow my herd and stock numbers,” said Mr Manue.

“I have 23 cattle and I am thankful to the Government for the assistance because I know that by erecting my paddock from this assistance, I can now expect to see my farm grow as I will continue to do my part if I want to keep on moving,” he added.

Mr Manue and his fellow recipients each will be receiving 20 pine posts, 10 coils of high-tensile barbed wire, 1 coil No.8 wire and 2 kilograms of staples (U-nails) under the Beef Extension Programme. Each beef cattle fencing kit is estimated to be worth approximately $3,500.00.