The Fiji Times » Easy Access to Funding

The Fiji Times » Easy Access to Funding

Under this facility, eligible individual rice farmers, or those part of joint ventures and cooperatives, or in partnership or a company can access up to $250,000 through the package at subsidized interest rates while for loans above $250,000 these will be considered at a commercial rate where interest rates may vary. “With these barriers removed, farmers can concentrate on improving their production capacity, and on ways of making the supply chain more resilient to economic and natural shocks such as those caused by climate change,” he said. The package which was launched yesterday by the President of the Republic of Fiji, Ratu Wiliame Katonivere, will have both FDB and Fiji Rice Ltd support rice production through value chain financing, a concept that connects farmers to a guaranteed market which then allows them to access financing and technical assistance more readily and processors to secure consistent supply.

“Through this partnership with Fiji Rice, farmers will receive technical assistance on improving their production. FDB chief executive officer Saud Minam said the package promoted the expansion of rice production and encouraged farmers to use banking services that integrate them into the value chain and would provide access to financing for those without lease or land title.

“This would strengthen the value chain which in return would ensure provision of jobs to service providers in the value chain such as seedling suppliers, machinery operators, transportation SMEs, and packaging companies among others. This facility will be available from December 1 at an interest rate of 4.99 per cent.

“That money could be diverted to areas such as health and education.” Fiji Rice Ltd board chairman Raj Sharma said there was a lot interest coming from small sector farmers, co-operatives, former inmates, farmers who were landowners who wanted to engage in rice farming. He said the package would allow more farmers to engage in rice farming and plant more rice which would help lower the rice import bill.

“Fiji’s rice import bill stands around $40 million for 40,000 tonnes annually. “According to the Ministry of Agriculture we only produce 16 per cent of the rice we need,” he said. Ratu Wiliame said he had been associated with the promotion of promotion of the sustainability of the rice industry in Fiji with the Fiji Rice Ltd board.

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