The Fijian Government (Suva, Fiji) The Ministry of Agriculture through the GEF STAR Fiji Ridge-to-Reef (R2R) Project, will assist 528 farmers with the provision of fencing materials to help fence their livestock paddocks.
This was announced by the Minister for Agriculture, Waterways and Environment Hon. Dr. Mahendra Reddy at Legalega Research Station in Nadi today, as most livestock farmers did not have fenced paddocks, with their animals often left to graze out in open fields, mountainsides, or along riparian zones of rivers and streams.
Minister Reddy said these untethered animals caused a variety of problems, principal of which was the overgrazing of native plants harming our natural biodiversity.
“The project will be carried out in the six catchments - Ba, Labasa, Rewa/Waidina, Tunuloa, Tuva and Vunivia,” said Minister Reddy
Under the program, the Ministry will assist 226 farmers in the Western Division, 226 farmers in the Northern Division, and 76 farmers in the Central Division respectively in these identified catchment areas.
Each of these livestock farmers will be provided with a standard package of 10 coiled 4feet x 50metre fencing wire (for Goat and Sheep owners only), 10 coiled 18 kg high-tensile barbed wire (for Cattle owners only), 22 pine posts, 4kg U-nails and binding wire to help develop their respective paddocks.
Minister Reddy said while the Government, with the support of United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and R2R Project, were assisting with the items above to protect the biodiversity of those catchments, the Ministry would also be working with farmers to further enhance the biodiversity of the catchments by planting forest tree species outside the fenced area to restore and rehabilitate what had been damaged.
“The loss of forest habitat is a leading cause of species extinction and reforestation is one of the two established interventions for reversing this loss. This reforestation effort will protect the animals and rebuild habitats.”
Meanwhile, for assistance recipient and goat farmer, Mr. Viven Chandra Singh of Nawaicoba, Nadi the support rendered by the Ministry and its development partners was an important indicator for the livestock sector’s development.
“We are glad for the support by the Government and that they have taken up these very important measures to develop this livestock sector and at the same time thinking about protecting our environment as well,” said Mr. Singh.
“While we are doing development on our farms, our environment also needs to be taken care of and this initiative by the Ministry of Agriculture, Waterways, and Environment is a good example where the Government is on one side providing us with fencing material for our livestock to safeguard against damage to our trees and the catchment while on the other hand are also embarking on protecting our environment by providing tree seedlings that will be planted and will benefit our future generation all the same,” added Mr. Singh.
The total cost of the project is FJ$650,000.00 (USD$286,000) and funded through the GEF Star Fiji National R2R Project.
Minister Reddy acknowledged the GEF, UNDP, and R2R Project for recognizing the need to mainstream biodiversity across sectors and for being practical on implementing such initiatives through funding and the required resources.