Agricultural Land Marginalized

Oct. 3, 2017, 6:01 a.m.

Agricultural Land Marginalized

Land for agricultural purposes is being side-lined to sloping and marginal land due to an increasing demand for arable land from other economic activities.

“When done on such terrain, there is a risk of land degradation, which can be compounded by extreme weather patterns,” stated Assistant Agriculture Minister, Viam Pillay.

His Ministry is working to strengthen sustainable land management practices, particularly as the local focal point of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification and Land Degradation.

The promotion of Sustainable Land Management (SLM) practices amongst local farmers has recently included training communities in developing best land use planning practises, establishing demo farms and creating SLM awareness and technologies.

Additionally, land care concepts have been promoted via workshops and seminars, as well as establishing agro-forestry research plots, Government noted.

“This practice is in alignment with the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification. Moreover, the Ministry of Agriculture is the National Focal Point of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification in Fiji.

The Land Use Section of the Ministry has set a goal in the effective management of land resources to ensure sustainable development.

“This includes the sustainable use of all natural resources, sustainable community livelihoods through competitive exports and efficient food security and effective and coordinated land management to support economic development.”

According to the Agriculture Ministry, Fiji’s major environmental problems include land degradation, waste disposal and pollution.

“Land degradation will, if the situation is not remedied, arrest the growth of agriculture in the country. In addition, soil is a major resource for agricultural production, therefore healthy soils is critical for sustainable agriculture development.”

The Ministry pinpoints steep land cultivation as responsible for the most widespread land degradation, noting that on the main island of Viti Levu, 47 per cent of sugarcane farming is carried out in marginal-to-steep land areas. It says nearly 15,000 hectares of agricultural land had been identified as requiring urgent soil conservation.

“Government through the Ministry of Agriculture is committed to zero land degradation by 2020 with the Ministry’s objective of combating land degradation and mitigating its effects through the enhancement of SLM capacities into the planning, development and utilization of land for environmental, social and economic well-being of Fiji.”

To commemorate the World Day to Combat Desertification, the Ministry of Agriculture recently conducted field days in the Central, Western and Northern Division.

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