A CHURCH-based organisation has plans to help Government reduce its rice imports and make Fiji self-sufficient in rice production with the revival of rice farming.
Grace Road Group started operations in Fiji last year with an initial investment of more than $10million.
South Korean investor Daniel Kim, who is also the president of the group, says Fiji has the potential to grow more rice and become self-sufficient by the year 2020.
Mr Kim said Government had the same plans but lacked the machinery to be able to achieve its goals.
“But we have brought the machines with us and we have the expertise and the manpower to achieve this goal.
” Our headquarters is in Navua and we are planning to build the biggest rice milling factory in Fiji there,” he said.
He said they planned to finish building the rice milling factory by January or February next year.
Mr Kim said the group had a 100-acre farm in Navua and a 200-acre farm in Nausori where they had planted rice while they still waited on another 1000-acre land in Nausori/Tailevu to be cleared by Government.
He said they had plans to start rice revival projects on Vanua Levu and they had already moved their machinery to help them with the development.
Mr Kim said they planned to produce 44,000 tonnes of rice because that was roughly the amount of rice that was imported by Fiji. To do that, the group needed 13000 acres of land. Some of the challenges that the company faced was regarding land issues but Mr Kim said the Government had been very supportive in the process.
“We are doing organic farming and our rice farms are also organic because we do not want to use chemicals and other harmful substance,” he said.
Mr Kim said the group also had six restaurants in the country and it used products that were planted on their farm in Navua.
“We supply the rice to our own restaurant and we plan to supply organic rice to other resorts and restaurants once the other farms are ready,” he said.
According to Mr Kim, they had a program for the landowners and the response from the mataqali had been very positive.
He said they had training programs for members of the church, who would then train the landowners so that they could pass the knowledge to their own landowning unit members and villagers.
Mr Kim said they also had plans to start potato farming and help reduce the import bill for potatoes.