Fiji benefits from China's fertilizer assistance

13:12, March 03, 2010      

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Fiji's Ministry of Primary Industries received on behalf of the Fiji government 600 tons of NPK fertilizer from the Chinese government at the South Pacific Fertilizers Limited headquarters in Lautoka on Wednesday.

Fiji Minister for Primary Industries Joketani Cokanasiga expressed thanks to the Chinese government, saying "this valuable assistance is testimony of the continuing commitment by the Government of China to help Fiji Agriculture and sugar sectors and is also testimony to its commitment to strengthen its bilateral ties with Fiji."

The sharp rise in world fertilizer prices in 2008 and in early 2009 has resulted in an increased cost of Fiji's local blended fertilizers to a level which discouraged both the sugar-cane and non-sugarcane farmers.

"To add to this, the sharp decline in EU prices of Fiji's sugar export, by 36 percent in 2009 compounded the problem, thus our sugar cane farmers in particular, faced serious problems in maintaining their production outputs," Cokanasiga said.

In April 2009, the Fiji government took the decision to support cane farmers by providing monetary support to subsidize sugarcane blends by 14.09 Fiji dollars (7.2 U.S. dollars) per 50 kg bag.

Cane farmers also had to pay an additional 12 Fiji dollars (6.2 U.S. dollars) per bag to meet the increased cost so Government had decided to provide this support for two years in 2009 and in 2010 at a cost of 9.8 million Fiji dollars (5.06 million U.S. dollars) each year.

The Chinese government has decided that 50 percent of the fertilizer gift from China should be utilized in the non-sugar farms to help lift production and its timely arrival will greatly assist in the recovery of the island nation's agricultural production especially after Tropical Cyclone Mick, Cokanasiga said.

The initial 600 tons of fertilizers have been distributed across Vanua Levu as well as Viti Levu.

The second consignment of 600 tons received on Wednesday will be distributed to the sugar-cane sector, especially to those cane farmers that are currently involved in inter-cropping.

The next cane planting program is scheduled for April to May 2010 and the NPK fertilizer which is part of this consignment will be used for intercropping with newly planted cane.

The first shipment of 600 tons which had already arrived makes the total aid donated by the Chinese government to 1,200 tons.

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