Fiji, India Looks To Boost Agricultural Cooperation

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MOU in areas of rice, horticulture, fisheries, animal husbandry eyed

By Reginald Chandar

SUVA, Fiji (Fijilive, Jan. 28, 2015) – Fiji's Agricultural Ministry has proposed to enter into a Memorandum of Understanding with India in areas of rice, horticulture, fisheries and animal husbandry.

An official statement from the Indian Agricultural Ministry published in Indian newspaper, The Economic Times says Agriculture Minister Inia Seruiratu called his Indian counterpart Radha Mohan Singh and discussed about strengthening cooperation between two nations in the farming sector and proposed to enter into a MOU.

The two countries signed a Development Cooperation MOU way back in 2006 for assistance in areas of agriculture, fisheries and forests sector.

Singh said the delegation that India looks forward to strengthening the bilateral relation to a new height and expressed interest in training of agricultural students of Fiji at Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) Institutes.

Meanwhile, Minister Inia Seruiratu and his acting permanent secretary Uraia Waibuta will represent Fiji at the 51st Ministerial Meeting of Asia Pacific Coconut Community (APCC) at Kochi, Kerala in India next week.

The four days meeting which will be held from 2nd to 5th February will be the venue for the exchange of ideas on new technologies, processes, products, market trends and prospects related to the coconut industry.

"The coconut industry is important as there are a lot of farmers involved particularly rural communities and with the recent developments, the meeting will benefit our farmers a lot in areas of coconut product diversification/value addition and by-product utilisation, technology transfer, quality seed production and husbandry practice," Seruiratu said.

"The APCC meeting will have a lot of benefit for our farmers through capacity building, improvement on knowledge and technology which will positively have an impact on their livelihoods, increase productivity and reduce the cost of production which are some contributing factors to the drop in the production of copra in Fiji."

"It will also enable us to discuss the possibilities of having Memorandum of Understanding with specific agencies within the Indian Government which we would like to pursue on Agriculture related issues particularly seed development, trainings and technical expertise exchanges," he added.

The Fijian delegation will also meet with India’s Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development and visit sites relevant to the agriculture portfolio such as the National Diary Institute, the Vegetable Seeds Production and the Potato Research Centre.

The Northern Division and the Lau Groups in the Eastern Division are Fiji’s traditional copra producers and the Ministry of Agriculture had introduced the 2013 Plant 1million Coconut Tree Program to help increase the production of copra.

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