Fiji has the potential to become self-sufficient in meeting its local rice consumption, as was the case in the 1970s.
Fiji Rice Limited General Manager, Ashrit Pratap says if the focus is right, they will be able to achieve this target.
Pratap says there are a lot of idle land in the country, and Fijians should make use of this, as a number of assistance schemes are now available for farmers through the Government and various ministries.
He adds Fiji also has the right climatic conditions to plant rice.
In the 1970s, rice was one of the top agricultural commodities, and Pratap says Fiji also exported the product.
He says with the right focus, we can once again become self-sufficient.
“It depends on how much attention we are giving to rice. You note that rice is a short-term crop. If you start planting rice in three to four months you can harvest and get your money. Its quick returns for farmers that is one advantage. Secondly, we have a lot of idle land in Fiji. So if we utilize all, we don’t have to import rice.”
The rice industry collapsed due to the expiry of land leases and the children of farmers opting for white-collar jobs.
Pratap says it was not until 2012, when the current Government started injecting money into the industry, that Fiji Rice Limited was able to revive itself.