Reddy: Agriculture ministry no longer pursuing import substitution

Minister for Agriculture, Rural and Maritime Development, Waterways and Environment Dr Mahendra Reddy meets with farmers at Tunalia, Nadi. Picture: BALJEET SINGH

IMPORT substitution is no longer an avenue that the Ministry of Agriculture is pursuing, says Minister for Agriculture Dr Mahendra Reddy.

While speaking to farmers at Tunalia, Nadi last week, he said the ministry was looking at other avenues to improve its exports and reduce imports of agricultural products.

He said Government’s efforts to protect its foreign reserves would be invested in finding products that would bring in more income.

“We need to enhance our foreign reserves by exporting and we need to protect our foreign reserves by reducing our imports,” he said.

“But we are reducing our imports on products where we have a strategic advantage.

“We don’t have an import substitution policy any more. Please understand that.

“We will go into areas where we have a strategic advantage, for example we are not going to be openly promoting potatoes because it is not a viable product for us.

“If we don’t have a strategic advantage, we will abandon it. We will look and invest in a crop or livestock where we have a strategic advantage.

“We will deal with potato in a different manner. We will look at a substitute to potato and try and get a substantive return for it.”

He said at the moment, Fiji had a large import bill for agricultural products and byproducts.

“At the moment, we import 70 per cent of pulses for consumption, then we have 85 per cent of our rice being imported from Vietnam and Thailand.

“We also have 85 per cent of dairy products imported as well.

“So these are some of the imports that we are trying to reduce by making our own products and increasing our farming capacities to produce some of these products.”

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