A total of 43,000 fruit and vegetable seedlings were handed over to the Ministry of Agriculture by the European Union Ambassador to the Pacific, H.E. Andrew Jacobs, today in Nadi, to boost the country’s recovery following tropical cyclone Winston.
The seedlings were propagated as part of a joint development initiative between the European Union (EU) and the Pacific Community (SPC), called Improving Key Services to Agriculture (IKSA).
"This project is the first of several EU-SPC joint initiatives to provide direct support to communities affected by tropical cyclone Winston, helping them to meet their food security needs in the short term," Ambassador Jacobs said, as he handed over the seedlings to the Ministry of Agriculture's Permanent Secretary, Uraia Waibuta.
He added that "These seedlings consist of a mixture of cabbages, egg plants, tomatoes, chillies, papayas and so forth. In total it is close 450,000 vegetable and fruit seedlings that will be made available in the next few months. This will enable communities to access fresh and nutritious crops from the next few weeks".
The IKSA project is supporting new opportunities in horticultural and sugar markets, through research and by assisting farmers to venture into horticultural crops.
"We're committed to supporting the interests and well-being of our members, and in this case for Fiji and its farming communities, we're standing by them in their hour of need," the Pacific Community Deputy Director-General, Dr Audrey Aumua, said.
"Our technical and scientific staff are assisting the Fiji government in various response groups, such as national disaster management coordination, food security and livelihoods, energy, health and nutrition, spatial data, water and sanitation, and maritime transportation," Dr Aumua said.
The seedlings from the IKSA project complement the supply of seeds and crop cuttings provided by the Ministry of Agriculture and other partners involved in the recovery efforts in the agriculture sector.
Last week, another SPC-EU initiative, Reforest Fiji, made 250,000 tree seedlings available from its nurseries to be distributed amongst thousands of rural farming households in the sugar cane belt region with the long term aim of rehabilitating degraded landscapes and enhancing watershed areas. See SPC News.
Graphic by Simione Tukidia, SPC’s Land Resources Division