FIJIAN INDIGENOUS BLUEPRINT WILL ONLY WORK THROUGH DEDICATION, SAYS PM QARASE

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SUVA, Fiji Islands (April 25, 2001 - Fiji's Daily Post/PINA Nius Online)---Affirmative action supporting indigenous Fijians will be useless unless Fijians match it with commitment and effort, caretaker Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase warned.

Mr. Qarase, the main architect behind the controversial Blueprint for Fijians, was speaking at the opening of the new Crest Chicken processing plant at Colo-i-Suva.

Mr. Qarase's plan is among steps proposed by his then interim administration following last year's overthrow of the government of Fiji's first ethnic Indian prime minister, Mahendra Chaudhry, and unrest among indigenous Fijians.

Mr. Qarase said the indigenous Fijians have everything to become successful in business, especially in the agricultural sector.

"How long will it take for more rural Fijians to become successful commercial farmers?" Mr. Qarase asked.

He said Fijians had the land and manpower and with government's help, advice and finance were available.

However, with all that's available all to their advantage, still the output languishes and diversification is slow, he said.

"We need to conduct an urgent and thorough appraisal of this problem and give attention to the marketing side - how to get produce from remote areas to the consumer," he said.

The caretaker Prime Minister said there had been talks around the grog bowl regarding the success of the Chinese farmers.

In some places the current trend is that Chinese farmers are dominating all phases of the agricultural sector while Fijians are just spectators.

Chinese farmers had shown what could be done with intensive cultivation in places like Nasinu, Waibau and Sawani. In most of these places the landowners are employed as farm laborers.

"Their success comes down to the sweat of the brow, sheer consistent effort and determination," he said.

Mr. Qarase said that just recently one of those successful Chinese farmers provided an insight into what makes for success: "You must work from sun-up to sunset. Each member of the family assists.

"When the children come back from school, they too must go down to the farm - and still find time to do their homework.

"Some of the farm earnings must be saved. There is a need for patience.

The living is frugal and hard, but ultimately there is a reward."

The caretaker government wants Fijians to excel in the business sector and has provided financial help.

For additional reports from Fiji’s Daily Post, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Other News Resources/FijiLive.

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Website: http://www.pinanius.org 

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