IN its bid to fulfil its 2020 rice self-sufficiency mission, Grace Road Group has launched contract farming with local farmers last week.
As part of the initiative, the Grace Road Group will provide all the materials needed for mechanised and organic rice farming, which includes seeds, machinery, organic fertiliser made from earthworm casting or other organic materials, and natural vermin repellent.
Grace Road Group president Daniel Kim said the cost of those materials would be deducted every time the contract farmer sold his rice to Grace Road Group and, in the case of the tractor, the machine will be owned by the contract farmer once the cost was repaid.
Mr Kim said the contract had a provision for education and site monitoring needed for the farmer to make sure there were no problems for farming.
Mr Kim said continual contact would be kept between Grace Road Group and the contract farmer to resolve the problems that may arise and the contract was for a minimum of five years.
“The biggest reason Fiji imports not only rice, but most food commodities was there was no market that could motivate Fijians to start farming.
“To resolve this issue, we plan to finish the construction of the rice processing complex (RPC) that can process 6000 tonnes of rice in a year. RPC will commence its full-scale operation next year in February,” said Mr Kim.
He said mechanised farming was the direction that Fiji should be headed in and that was why the group imported machinery and implements that were suited for Fiji’s land.
“And today, we have made our first distribution of the machinery with the local Fijian farmer for contract farming. Fiji’s rice self-sufficiency cannot be accomplished just by Grace Road Group and some government departments. We absolutely need the support of Fijian farmers.”
Mr Kim said contract farming was their first attempt and there were ups and downs expected, but the group was confident of the project being successful.
“We want to announce that this contract farming is not for a select few, but it is open to anyone who wants to farm rice in the Navua region. Starting with Navua, we will expand this contract to the entire region of Fiji such as Rewa. We will continue our challenge of mechanised, organic rice farming to fulfil our mission of 2020 rice self-sufficiency, and we will succeed,” said Mr Kim.
Navua farmer Vicky said he was grateful to the group for their support and the opportunity.
“I have an available land, but there was nothing that I could do with it. But Grace Road Group decided to provide everything that I needed for farming and all I need to do is diligently farm in my own land,” he said.
“I have not received this kind of tremendous help in my life and I could not believe that I was starting this contract.
“I wish to express my gratitude to Grace Road Group for their full support and I will succeed with mechanised organic rice farming on my piece of land.”