Some of latest NZ aid to Fiji goes to dairy sector
New Zealand contributes more aid to help Fiji following Cyclone Winston and outlines plans to help the agriculture sector.
New Zealand has this week given more aid to Fiji in the wake of Cyclone Winston but some of the emphasis now is going on economic restoration.
In total New Zealand has now given NZ$15 million dollars towards the aid effort, much of it going to immediate relief and recovery work provided by the NZ Defence Force and other agencies.
The New Zealand high commissioner to Fiji, Mark Ramsden, says that work remains the key focus but he told Don Wiseman they are also looking to help the agriculture sector.
MARK RAMSDEN: A lot of that money will be focussed on public infrastructure - schools, clinics, things like that. These have been identified to us by the Fiji government and obviously we are working very closely with them, but standing up the economy is really very important as well. I mean we all know that tourism is hugely important for Fiji and that Fiji's tourism sector remains open for business, but the agriculture sector has taken a pretty heavy hit. This is an area where the New Zealand aid programme is already working, so we are hoping to build on some of those interventions, some of those areas of support, to try and help build the economy recovery.
DON WISEMAN: We know that when we come to sugarcane farming it has been completely decimated in some areas, but you are working in other areas, such as dairy.
MR: That's right, so the sort of flagship, if you like, of the New Zealand aid programme in Fiji is the Dairy Initiative. Fiji has a quite well established dairy industry, but it is one that we think could do a whole lot better and so we are helping out in that. Now one of the things that we experienced in Cyclone Winston is that some of the areas worst hit, particularly along the northern coast of Viti Levu, around Rakiraki and Ba, are areas where dairying is really important. So it is an area that we are looking at now at what we are already doing under dairy and seeing how we can orient that so it is going to help people recover from the cyclone and build that better, if you like.
DW: What was the impact of the storm on dairy farms and the like?
MR: In areas like Tailevu and Ra, there is in places quite intensive dairy, there is also a lot of small holder dairy if you like. For the bigger operations, the biggest impact has been the loss of electric power. That is an area where New Zealand is already working as a part of the relief to recovery phase. And we have teams of New Zealand line mechanics up here, helping the Fiji Electricity Authority get the power back on. But that is going to be a very big job - for the small holders, everyone is starting to get up and running again but there is an estimate that Fiji is losing about 7,000 litres of milk a day because of the impact of the cyclone, so it is going to take a little while to get that back up and running.
DW: And some focus on agricultural exporters, so are you talking about making it easier for Fiji farmers to get goods into New Zealand?
MR: The places we have been working already have been with a really successful co-operative called Nature's Way out in Nadi. And Nature's Way have a high temperature forced air treatment plant, which treats a lot of the pawpaw, papaya which comes to New Zealand. We will continue to look for opportunities with them and there are some really good links into importers in New Zealand, so we will see first what we can do working with our established partners, Nature's Way. We will also work with the Ministry of Agriculture. One of the things where there may be problems is around animal health and that is another area where we may be talking with the Fiji Ministry of Agriculture.
To embed this content on your own webpage, cut and paste the following: