Aging farmers in Fiji’s rural communities involved in the agriculture sector continues to be a worrying trend for the Fijian government which wants more youth involvement in this sector.
Agriculture Minister Mahendra Reddy said Thursday the Ministry of Agricultures’ Farm 2016 Household survey revealed that 22 percent of farmers in Fiji are between the ages of 19 and 30 while 35 percent of the farmers are over 50 years of age. Reddy said it was vital for Fijians to understand that farming should be treated like a business and the government would continue to encourage farming through support programs.
“We want young people, youths to see agriculture as a business rather than see agriculture as something that is relegated in the periphery. The Ministry of Agriculture will continue to provide the required leverage to farmers via various farm support programs to provide services to existing farmers and to attract young farmers as well.”
Reddy said the ministry plans to attract more young farmers through different initiatives. Agriculture is the mainstay of Fiji’s economy, and contributes around 28 percent to total employment in the formal sector. This sector which was once a major stronghold of Fiji’s economy and is the third largest now, contributing 451 million Fijian dollars (211 million U.S. dollars) or 9 percent annually to the nation’s GDP. Sugarcane which used to dominate the sector now only contributes 0.9 percent and has been surpassed by other crops, horticulture, and livestock production and subsistence sector according to Investment Fiji.