July 8, 2021 Hugh Robinson Complex, Raiwaqa
Members of the Diplomatic Corps
Partners from UN Agencies
Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Agriculture, PS Dass
Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Waterways and Environment, PS Wycliffe.
Permanent Secretaries from various Ministries across Government
Senior Government Officials
Senior Officials of the Ministry
Members of the Media
Ladies and Gentlemen
Bula Vinaka to you all, and welcome to the Ministry of Agriculture. A special welcome to members of the Diplomatic Corps, partners, key stakeholders, colleagues and especially our farmers who are joining us today through zoom.
I am sure that we are all excited to be here today, despite different modes of access and the COVID 19 pandemic, to witness first hand the release of 2020 Fiji Agriculture Census Report.
As we anticipate this moment, I wish to share with you all today, that it has been an endeavour for the Ministry in trying to consolidate these important statistics, to ensure that we produce the best possible set of information that will highlight to you the structure of Fiji’s Agriculture Sector at a certain point in time. The Ministry organised the Agriculture Census in February 2020, just about a month away from when COVID 19 was declared a pandemic. We were able to successfully complete field coverage but the road to actually releasing these reports has not been easy as we undertook all other processes amidst demands of Covid 19 protocols.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Fiji’s large rural population is highly dependent on agriculture for their livelihood. Fiji’s economic growth and development has been strongly pegged to the agricultural sector in the early years.
The resilience of this sector has surfaced time and again, clearly demonstrating that one of our sectors that we have a comparative advantage is Agriculture.
During the first and now this wave of the Covid 19 pandemic, Agriculture sector has stood tall amongst others to be the back bone of the economy as well as being the last bastion of sustainable alternative livelihood for not only the rural households, but for some households in the urban areas as well.
During this pandemic, the agriculture sector played a critical role:
1. In ensuring direct access to a diversity of nutritionally rich foods;
2. In increased purchasing power from savings on food bills;
3. In providing a substitute for imported food products;
4. In providing employment and income generation opportunities; and,
5. In bringing in the much needed foreign currency through export of agricultural produce and products.
Ladies and gentlemen, I strongly believe that if we vigorously push for agriculture expansion and development, using a smart model, where large number people are involved via the various factors of production, then the surplus created from the growth in this sector will spread across these stakeholders and thus with the growing agriculture sector, everyone will grow. Ladies and gentlemen, I cant think of any better model for pro poor, pro rural sustainable growth strategy then what I have just described.
Ladies and gentlemen, I now see a national movement towards agriculture growth and expansion and I must admit that after a very long period, this nation is again witnessing peoples pride, interest and engagement in agriculture.
Ladies and Gentlemen, we here at the Ministry of Agriculture must seize this opportunity by:
1. Increasing our research and technology development;
2. Improving technical advice;
3. Identifying and unblock some of the critical binding constraints for agriculture growth and expansion; and,
4. Ensuring we collect analyse and disseminate critical Agricultural statistics for use by all stakeholders with a common vision for agricultural expansion, growth and development.
Ladies and Gentlemen, it is in this regard that we are honoured today to provide to our stakeholders, the Year 2020 Fiji Agriculture Census Report.
The Census of Agriculture is one of the key pillars of any national statistical system and in many developing countries; it is often the only means of producing statistical information on the structure and other relevant aspects of agriculture sector. Furthermore, the Census data and report is also a proxy for snapshot of rural growth and development.
Moreover, it is the only data collection instruments that produces Statistical information on farms at the lowest geographical level such as farm holdings, households etc., therefore it is an essential source of information for government and decision makers.
In 2020, Fiji together with Samoa, Niue and FSM were included in the FAO World program for the Census of Agriculture 2020. It is the most important element of FAO’s Statistical work since the founding of FAO in 1945.
The program supports countries to carry out their National Agricultural Censuses using standard international concepts, definitions and methodologies. The world program for the Census of Agriculture 2020 is the tenth decennial programme and is expected to provide the basis for implementation of Agricultural Censuses in FAO member countries from 2016-2025. The program ensure that Census results are harmonised and internationally comparable and allows countries to benchmark their performance against others.
Ladies and Gentlemen, The Ministry must work with all possible avenues amidst the Pandemic to ensure that we are able to release the Agriculture Census Reports according to plan. As alluded to, we are witnessing increased interest from different interest groups, individuals, households, corporate sectors, food processors, external interest groups to invest in agriculture. We must be ready to provide them with different statistics so that they can understand the sector well and make well research decisions.
The urgent need for Census data by users, not only for Agriculture Census but for any other Censuses for that matter, is common, considering the scope and scale of data collated and reported.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Agriculture Census enables compilation of data at community-level and ensure that issues affecting farmers, farm communities and agricultural operations are included when decisions are made on matters that affect them and their livelihood.
Timely and Reliable Statistical information is crucial for the benefit of society and the economy as a whole – not only in policy making and the evaluation of performance, but also in directing economic and social activities and providing valuable data and evidence for analysts, researchers, civil societies, investors and the general public.
The objective of the 2020 Fiji Agriculture Census is to improve the quality of evidence-based policy making, guide development of Agricultural Statistics in Fiji and address unprecedented data demand to monitor national targets and Sustainable Development Goals.
Ladies and gentlemen, the 2020 FAC reports are being released in four volumes of publications.
1.1.1 Volume I – 2020 FAC General Tables and Descriptive Analysis.
1.1.2 Volume II - 2020 FAC Detailed Analysis and report of Enumeration areas.
1.1.3 Volume III – 2020 FAC Gender Report.
1.1.4 Volume IV – 2020 FAC Administration Report.
Ladies and gentlemen, Volume I: General Tables and Descriptive Analysis presents 118 tables on detailed findings of the 2020 FAC. Each table highlights disaggregated numbers of key demographic indicators of farming households in Fiji’s Agriculture Sector. Each indicator is also represented with graphical analysis linked to each table reported.
Ladies and gentlemen, during the 2020 Census period, we had a total number of 70,991 farming households with 11.9% of these being female headed. Total population of these households were 300,861. Given that some households consisted of more than one farmer, the total number of farmers in Fiji, then, was 83,395.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Volume II provides detailed agricultural activity by Geographical area. The Report of Enumeration Area presents district level information of Fiji’s Agriculture Sector. This data is very useful when we want to estimate damage after a natural disaster. We will also be using this information for Agriculture Extension services.
Ladies and Gentlemen, for the first time, we have undertaken a detail analysis of agricultural activity by gender which are presented in Volume III. It culminates from the consensus that Gender needs to be included across sectoral policy as outlined in SDG 5, NDP and MoA SDP.
Ladies and Gentlmen, Volume IV Administration Report, the report highlights a series of activities undertaken in the 2020 FAC highlighting systems and processes that guided the whole operation. The report also recommends methodologies and processes that should guide future agriculture data collection systems.
Ladies and Gentlemen, before I conclude, I would like to acknowledge the budgetary allocation of F$4.5m and our heartfelt thanks to the Minister for Economy. Ladies and gentlemen, this allocation demonstrates government’s commitment to build a knowledge based society and policy making based on latest data.
I also wish to acknowledge financial support from FAO which enabled the funding of 4 technical experts and series of workshops leading to the final survey.
I do hope that as we release the 2020 Agriculture Census findings that stakeholders and users such as Academics, Tertiary Students, and Consultants etc. will fully utilise these reports as basis of their future research and analysis on Fiji’s Agriculture Sector. I would also like to take this time to thank PS Agriculture and your fellow PS’s who were also part of the Census Operation and your various teams for your hard work and commitment that has enabled the compilation of this publications - 2020 Fiji Agriculture Census Report – Volumes 1, 2, 3 & 4. I must also acknowledge the superb work done by the statistic team led by Ms. Bose and Sai within Ministry of Agriculture over the last 12 months or so in preparing for this day. We can all vouch for the fact that this team has made leaps and bounds in the areas of data and insights into the agricultural sector performance, which I have spoken about on numerous occasions, and has shown how the sector continues to deliver and grow in these trying times.
Ladies and Gentlemen, distinguished guests, partners and stakeholders, it now gives me great pleasure to officially release the Fiji Agriculture Census Report 2020.
Thank you, vinaka vakalevu and dhaanyavaard.