Potato farming has been launched in Fiji in an effort to reduce the country’s potato imports that currently stand at $17 million.
At the launching at Navai in Nadarivatu on Thursday, agriculture minister Joketani Cokanasiga said government, through its "import substitution program" aimed to reduce this figure.
According to the agriculture ministry’s strategic plan, the cultivation of potatoes should begin this year and reduce the importation of the legume by $5.3 million annually, equivalent to growing nearly 1,100 acres of potatoes.
Potato farming will be concentrated in the Western Division provinces of Nadroga, Navosa, Ba and Ra.
“These farmers are earmarked to produce 100 tonnes of marketable potatoes this year and help reduce import by 6.25 percent in the first year. We aim to increase production by five folds next year and reduce imports by 31 percent," Cokanasiga said.
Cokanasiga said the potato venture is part of the ministry’s fulfillment of the key pillars of achieving high economic growth to ensure sustainability and making more land available for productive purposes.
It is also in line with the government’s vision of reducing poverty to a negligible level by 2015 in rural communities, he noted.