FIJI LAUNCHING ANOTHER AID PROGRAM FOR SUBSISTENCE FARMERS

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By Sainimili Lewa

SUVA, Fiji Islands (April 29, 2002 - The Fiji Times/PINA Nius Online)---Fiji will inaugurate another farming assistance project for subsistence and semi-subsistence farmers, Agriculture Minister Jonetani Galuinadi said.

Mr. Galuinadi said the scheme -- beginning on June 1 and open to all communities -- will help these farmers buy:

A maximum of F$ 1,000 (US$ 443.40) is available for each farmer.

The format and guidelines are different from a previous scheme, which is under investigation for alleged abuse of millions of dollars. Mr. Galuinadi said steps had been taken to ensure that this system would not be abused.

"We have to move forward," he said. "Farmers need to be assisted.''

No funding contribution will be required from farmers. Equity will be in the form of established planting and farming activity, which must be seen by an investigating officer.

The individual farmer must own enough land for farming and have no financial means of purchasing the farming items.

The farmer must also stay on the farm.

For group projects, the level of assistance will be directly related to membership numbers.

For example, assistance for a group of 10 farmers could be up to F$ 10,000 (US$ 4,434) per group or F$ 1,000 (US$ 443.40) per individual.

The group must have been in existence for at least three years.

The scheme will be administered by the Agriculture Ministry and its implementation will be supervised by divisional agriculture officers.

A five-member inter-departmental committee from the Regional Development Ministry, the Fijian Affairs Ministry, the Cooperatives Department and the Agriculture Ministry will review applications.

In reaction, Opposition Leader Prem Singh said there was no guarantee to ensure public money would not be abused again.

For additional reports from the Fiji Times, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/Fiji Times.

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

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