Minister for Rural and Maritime Development and Disaster Management Sakiasi Ditoka with Minister for Employment, Productivity, and Industrial Relations Agni Deo Singh during Parliament break yesterday.
The issue of rural-urban drift has become a major challenge in Fiji as the rural population and households migrate to urban areas in search of better opportunities.
Minister for Rural and Maritime Development and Disaster Management Sakiasi Ditoka highlighted this during his response to the President’s speech.
Ditoka highlighted that the drift is driven by the fact that around 37% of the rural populations are living below the poverty line compared to 14% in urban areas, as noted in the revised 2019/2020 Household Expenditure Survey Report.
The Minister says to address these issues, the government will intensify efforts to create more opportunities in rural areas.
He adds that the ministry is embarking on the process of developing the National Rural Development Policy.
“The policy is to guide and set the model, concepts, and strategies for rural and maritime development in Fiji. Rural development policy can be broadly defined as all aspects of state action that, directly or indirectly, influence the nature of economic and social development in rural areas.”
Ditoka says about 67% of Fiji’s population lived in rural areas in 1966; by 2019/2020, this had dropped to 45%.
The Minister says the Ministry will play a lead role through the “Integrated Rural Development Framework” to coordinate rural development programs among a number of government agencies, non-government organizations, civil society organizations, and the private sector to develop and enhance sustainable livelihoods for Fiji’s rural sector.