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SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, Dec. 7) – Cattle farmers in Savusavu want subsidies and assistance from the Fiji Government to increase their herd and meet demands for the local beef market.

[PIR editor’s note: Savusavu is located on the southern coast of Vanua Levu island in Fiji.]

The farmers are facing shortage of grass seed for their pastures and are forced to spend a lot of money on fencing post and wire.

Clarence Lepper has 168 cattle but his farm has a capacity to cater for at least 250.

He said he received only one bag of grass seed from the Ministry of Agriculture this year and the lack of pasture affected his farm.

Mr. Lepper said if he bought the seeds from a private company it would cost him FJ$300 [US$175] a bag whereas the Ministry of Agriculture sold it for FJ$30 [US$17].

He said the farmers were also spending up to FJ$15 [US$8] per post for fencing.

Former parliamentarian Leo Smith said he has 85 cattle but could have more than 200 in his farm.

He said bulls were costing up to FJ$2000 [US$1,172] each for breeding, which was expensive.

Mr. Smith said if the Government assisted the farmers to buy fencing materials, breeding bulls and grass, the production of beef would increase.

He said the farmers in Savusavu had the capacity to increase production and meet the demands of the local market but lacked the facilities.

Divisional Veterinary Officer northern Misi Raisuqa said orders were placed to import grass seeds that would be available shortly.

He said the seeds were distributed according to the demands and needs of each farmer.

December 8, 2005

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