Fiji’s Ministry of Agriculture organised the Agricultural Show in Ra over two days (4–5 September 2014) and well over a thousand people, including many students and farmers, came to the grounds to browse among the displays and get some education on a diversity of subjects: chicken incubators, cattle breeds, varieties of coconut, prohibited quarantine pests, different varieties of sweet potatoes and aquaculture, to name only a few.
In his opening remarks , Permanent Secretary for Fisheries and Forests, Mr Inoke Wainiqolo, said that the aim of the agricultural show is to highlight agriculture as a profession, as a business – agribusiness – and ultimately as a contributor to Fiji’s growing economy.
He explained that the Ra Agriculture Show would also act as a careers expo, targeting school children and youth, to highlight the importance of agriculture, especially for island countries like Fiji, where over 60% of the population relies on agriculture as their main source of livelihood. 'No matter how people are classified, agriculture is the lifeline that supports us all,' said Mr Wainiqolo.
He went on to talk about the Ministry of Agriculture. 'The Ministry continues to play its role in mapping new directions for the agriculture sector. One such event includes the recent launching of the Fiji 2020 Agriculture Sector Policy. The new policy establishes a long-term plan for the industry, moving forward through better provision of tools and equipment, allowing easy market access, as well as providing farmers with the proper education and support for livelihoods.
'The plan aims to modernise Fiji’s agriculture sector and assist our farmers to be competitive, with specialised skills and knowledge to meet market demand, be it local or export.'
He said one of the main objectives of the agriculture show was to stimulate the agriculture, fisheries and forestry sectors.
This year, the Ministry of Agriculture is taking the agriculture shows away from Suva and hosting them at the divisional level. The Northern and Western Division shows were held in August, the Central Division show in mid-September and the Eastern Division show date is yet to be confirmed. The theme for the agriculture shows this year reflects the FAO 2014 International Year of Family Farming theme: Sustainable family farming for food, nutrition and livelihood security.
Senior Agriculture Officer for Ra District, Mausio Petero, said that the agriculture show theme reflects the importance of agriculture in supporting livelihoods and pursuing sustainable family farming for Fiji. He said it is very important to maintain a balance of healthy and wealthy biodiversity for a sustainable environment, healthy soils, and a diversity of plants and animals and marine life. He said the show brings together youth and women to display the products of the land, and provides a public forum for healthy exchange through school oratory contests, theme song, and garden competitions.
SPC Land Resources Division was invited to set up an information display as well as provide support in organising extension materials for the Fiji Ministry of Agriculture. Information Assistant, Mr Joeli Uluinayau, coordinated LRD assistance to the Ra Agriculture Show.
Samoa Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon Le Mamea Ropati Mualia on an official visit to Fiji for talks with Fiji officials on acquiring a further consignment of Fiji Fantastic sheep, paid a visit to the Ra Agriculture Show on his way back to Samoa. He visited the SPC information booth and acknowledged SPC assistance to MAFF for providing vegetable seeds towards the SIDS preparations. Samoa MAF hosted a national agriculture show during SIDS conference where an international audience of over 3,000 delegates attended the global forum.