An agreement signed between the Fiji Development Bank and Fiji Rice Ltd will allow rice farmers to access finance in the form of loans at an affordable interest rate.
Under FDB’s new financial solution, Rice Mobility Package, which was launched yesterday, rice farmers without a formal lease can access loans of a minimum of $ 5,000 to $ 10,000 without any collateral.
This facility will be available from December 1 at an interest rate of 4.99%.
FDB chief executive Saud Minam said the package encourages the expansion of rice production and encourages farmers to use banking services that integrate them into the value chain and provide access to finance to those who do not. have no lease or land title.
“Through this partnership with Fiji Rice, farmers will receive technical assistance to improve their production.
“This would strengthen the value chain which, in turn, would ensure the provision of jobs for value chain service providers such as seed suppliers, machine operators, transport SMEs and packaging companies,” among others.
“Once these barriers are removed, farmers can focus on improving their productive capacity and on ways to make the supply chain more resilient to economic and natural shocks such as those caused by climate change,” he said. he declared.
Under this facility, eligible individual rice farmers, or those in joint ventures and cooperatives, or in partnership or business can access up to $ 250,000 through the package at subsidized interest rates while that for loans over $ 250,000 they will be considered at a commercial rate where interest rates may vary.
The package which was launched yesterday by the President of the Republic of Fiji, Ratu Wiliame Katonivere, will allow both FDB and Fiji Rice Ltd to support rice production through value chain finance, a concept which connects farmers to a guaranteed market which then allows them to access finance and technical assistance more easily and processors to ensure a constant supply.
Ratu Wiliame said he had been associated with promoting the promotion of sustainability of the rice industry in Fiji with the board of directors of Fiji Rice Ltd.
“Fiji’s rice import bill is around $ 40 million for 40,000 tonnes per year. “According to the Ministry of Agriculture, we only produce 16% of the rice we need,” he said.
He said the package would allow more farmers to engage in rice cultivation and plant more rice, which would help lower the bill for rice imports.
“This money could be diverted to areas such as health and education.”
Fiji Rice Ltd board chairman Raj Sharma said there was a lot of interest from smallholder farmers in the sector, cooperatives, former detainees, farmers who were landowners who wanted to get into rice growing.
Mr Sharma said that they had recently met with Commissioner Eastern who underlined the enormous interest of residents of the Eastern Division in planting rice.
Farmers from other parts of the country, namely Ra, Navua, Ba, Tavua and Rakiraki, have also shown great interest in rice cultivation.