December 20, 2019       Ministry of Agriculture Conference Room, Robinson Complex, Grantham Road Raiwaqa

Ladies and Gentlemen, our gathering here today marks a very important milestone for our Market-led Agriculture Growth Strategy. 

As you may be aware, earlier this year, I had announced a major shift in leveraging agriculture production and supply, away from subsidy induced agriculture growth to one whereby farmers will be prompted into expanding production, in response to market signals. 

The change was for several reasons:

1. That agriculture must be treated as a business;

2. That subsidy induced agriculture will attract inefficient farmers and land under production will be able to compete in an open competitive market;

3. That subsidy induced agriculture will perpetuate dependent agriculture which will not be sustainable over a longer period of time; and,

4. That subsidy induced agriculture will create an uneven playing field thus disadvantaging other hard-working commercial farmers. 

In a market-led agriculture growth strategy, price signals will determine farmer numbers, farming areas, and crop and livestock types. From day one, we start from a clean slate. 

This agriculture strategy will ensure we meet the national vision for agricultural output, ensure we are competitive in both local and external markets, and furthermore, provide good returns to all those who are engaged in the production process. 

Agricultural entrepreneurs will make good profits and owners will get good rent, labourers will receive good wages, financiers will get good interest rates and factor suppliers will get assured prices for their inputs….everyone’s livelihood will be addressed while we deliver agriculture growth in the national interest. 

Ladies and gentlemen, alongside our primary strategy leveraging commercial agriculture, we are also pursuing our strategy to provide food and nutrient security to all Fijian households as well as responsible agriculture where our environment and natural resources are not compromised for future generations. 

For both these initiatives, the connection of farmers to the market is paramount and critical. We can't expect farmers to undertake large scale farming without connecting them to the market via farm roads.  

Large scale production will require machinery and transportation access to the farm. 

As such, infrastructure plays a very critical role in advancing the Ministry’s collective aspirations especially in delivering only the best for the benefit of the sector. Therefore, at this meeting, I am happy to announce that the Ministry is committed to construct farm access roads nationwide. 

Commencing from January 2020, the Ministry has set aside resources and will begin its intensive programme of constructing 48 farm access roads as part of Phase 1. 12 out of these 48 farms roads will be newly constructed and 36 will be upgraded.  This may seem small in number but is equivalent to a total of 114km of farm access road across Fiji.  

Geographical Divisions Summary and breakdown of the work is as follows: