Fiji aims to reduce wheat dependence

March 9, 2024 4:25 pm

The Minister for Agriculture has expressed concerns over the escalating wheat import bill which has increased from $108 million in 2021 to $171 million in 2022 raising questions on how this could be reduced.

Vatimi Rayalu made the comments while handing over cassava processing machines to women of Rise beyond the Reef.

Rayalu says Fiji spends around $ 171 million on wheat import which is 16 percent of the total food import bill which is around $1,070 million.

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He says the $39,000 worth cassava processing machine represents a tangible step towards enhancing the value chain of cassava production in Fiji and the region.

Rayalu says with this new technology, they aim to improve efficiency, reduce post-harvest losses, and ultimately increase income opportunities for all farmers adding that this is aligned with their commitment to promoting food security and economic development in the communities.

The Minister says Fiji has comparative advantage when it comes to producing cassava .

He says the Ministry will prioritize a wide range of programs to revitalize the rural economy and encourage self-reliance including funding for cassava flour machines for rural women and rural boarding schools to become self-sufficient with dairy and fruits.

Rise beyond the Reef is a non-government organization, which works mainly with women from rural and remote communities.

They have trained more than 800 women in cassava flour making and have been testing the local and overseas cassava markets for the past two years.