Press Conference Statement – TC Yasa Food Security

December 22, 2020       Ministry Of Agriculture (Raiwaqa, HQ)

Ladies and gentlemen, 

Bula vinaka to you all. 

I would like to thank you all for being present here this afternoon. 

Ladies and Gentlemen, 

As you all know, we are all in an extremely challenging time. Last week, Category 5 TC YASA made landfall in Fiji on evening of December 17, 2020. 2 

Extremely destructive winds devasted areas in Macuata, Cakaudrove and Bua, including Lomaiviti, Northern Lau and Southern Lau. The communities in these areas have been more impacted than the rest of other regions, some losing everything they had. Their immediate priority is health and wellbeing, food, water and shelter. 

Ladies and gentlemen, the task ahead of us is massive in the aftermath of TC Yasa. However, I would like to assure the nation again today that we will continue to ensure that all Fijians have a continuous supply of locally grown fresh, nutritious produce throughout these trying times, particularly in these significantly impacted areas. 

Ministry of Agriculture has deployed our teams in assisting the impacted households and communities. We have been working around the clock, where our Agriculture Emergency Operations Centre was activated on 16/12. 

The Initial Damage Assessment Report has been completed in all 4 Divisions and submitted to NDMO on Dec 21. Furthermore, a Detailed Damage Assessment using digital data capture (kobotoolbox) commenced on Monday, 21 December and will be completed in the next 2 weeks. 

As of today, 21 MoA teams (120 staff including 2 veterinary teams) have been deployed to the affected area including 43 twin cabs, 3 trucks and 2 excavators. These Teams deployed to the Northern have been issued with essential materials such as 3 

• Chainsaws 

• Assessment materials 

• Communication devices 

• Salvage tools 

• Engineers and carpenters deployed to assess and damage and commence reconstruction of essential infrastructure. 

In addition, 2 senior vets deployed along with commodity specialist (bees, sheep, goats) to Northern Division. Veterinary base camp has been established at Lekutu, Bua and we are running mobile clinics across the most affected areas. Mobile clinics will provide free treatment and administration of veterinary drugs. 

Today, Tuesday (Dec 22) mobile clinics will be operating in the Lekutu and Dreketi area. On Wednesday (Dec 23) mobile clinics will be in Savusavu and part of Bua. On Thursday (Dec 24) the mobile clinics will be in Nabouwalu while continuing in Savusavu. 

Ladies and gentlemen, let me outline to you some specific “Food Security” plans as our immediate response, that will begin to be rolled out from tomorrow in the affected areas: 4 

Firstly, the success of Home Gardening initiative is testament that this programme works and can significantly boost household food and nutrition security by giving people; 

1. Direct access to a diversity of nutritionally rich foods; 

2. Increased purchasing power from savings on food bills; and 

3. Fall-back food provision due to the potential decrease in production and trade caused by the TC Yasa. 

Seed packs for 10,000 initial households ongoing for distribution to affected areas will commence from tomorrow. This will be an ongoing activity and will be scaled up to meet household food needs. 

To support this, 150,000 kumala cuttings to be distributed to most affected agricultural households with 15,000 to be distributed in Northern Division tomorrow (23 Dec). In addition, 30,000 bele cutting will be provided, as well as 150,000 cassava cuttings. MoA is also supplying sugar to bee farmers (estimated 1,500 hives) as a result of loss of flowers. 

In addition to crop, there is also requirement for livestock to compliment people’s dietary and nutritional requirement. Commencing tomorrow, the Ministry through its partners would supply each villages and settlement in the affected areas day old chicks at zero cost. By supporting backyard poultry production in these areas, the Ministry of Agriculture would facilitate access to fresh, nutrient–rich food at household level. Village based backyard 5 

poultry is an excellent way to enhance the availability of and access to micronutrients and protein-rich foods. Furthermore, it is an ideal activity for women as livestock and poultry-keeping are done traditionally by female members of the household. The Ministry will begin this initiative tomorrow in the affected areas by supplying day old chicks with feed to affected communities, and this will be again an ongoing activity. 

Ladies and gentlemen, Livestock has suffered stress in affected areas. Keep animals in the shade and provide sufficient water and supplementary feed as we provide assistance through our programmes. 

For crop farmers, please salvage what can be recovered for food and for planting material and this would also complement our objective of assisting those who need support. 

Ladies and gentlemen, our response to TC Yasa is structured to ensure that as per our Government’s objective, no Fijian will be left behind. Our programmes start at micro household and small inner and outer community level, progressing to supporting small-medium farming sectors and eventually expanding to mid to large commercial operating model of farming and agricultural production. 

Ladies and gentlemen, I urge you all to be patient as the Government steps up its response to assist those impacted by TC Yasa. Whilst it may seem like 6 

we are in rough waters at the moment, I am sure together we will ride the tide and bounce back stronger than ever before….as we always have! 

Thank you, Vinaka vakalevu, dhanyavaad. 

Dr. M Reddy 

22 December 2020