Fiji Daily Post - Vatuwaqa, Fiji 6-Nov-2008
By EMELINE NAIKALIVOU
The Ministry of Primary Industries is awaiting approval from the cabinet before proceeding any further with the much awaited Ethanol project.
National Coordinator and Principal Agriculture Officer Viliame Yabakivou however said that the ministry was already in preparation for the upcoming project and this was taken care of by the Extension Services of the ministry.
“The ministry provides technical services to farmers such as advisory services and general agronomic tips that will ensure the right farming methods are met and productive as well,” he said.
“For ethanol because of its immensity, the issue of planting materials will be the issue and the ministry is working towards this with a mind on food security for the people as well.”
“We will also try to increase the number of cassava on the grounds as part of a capacity building programme that will ensure the availability of enough planting materials come planting time for the project cassava,” he said.
It is projected that a total of 10-20,000 farmers will be directly involved in the project which the ministry hopes to kick-start in the central division. An approximate tonnage of 350,000 tonnes will be needed to supply the factory with 1000 tonnes of cassava each day.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Agriculture says that demand for cassava for ethanol purpose can be met by producers if the price is attractive ,appropriate machines and land are available and enough planting material are provided.
The Agriculture Ministry’s Director for Extension Services Fiuwaki Waqalala said those four factors greatly contribute to the success of producing cassava for Ethanol; hence any deficiency on any of the factors would hinder the production process.
Mr Waqalala is calling on farmers to consult with staff at the ministry and clarify issues relating to projects before reaching the final decision.
He added that farmers should have positive thinking towards this project and expect greater challenges.
“I am quite certain that this project will be of great benefit to all the involved stakeholders as cassava is adaptable through a wide range of soil types and topography and can be grown by farmers throughout the year by equally a wide range of farmers,” said Mr. Waqalala.
Mr Waqalala said that most importantly the project would be a great salvage to the economy as the sugar industry was on the decline.