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Remarks by Ambassador Zhang Ping at the Handover Ceremony of Chinese Agriculture Machineries for the Vanua Levu Agriculture Development Project
December 17, 2015

Honorable Prime Minister Banimarama,

Honorable Ministers, Assistant Ministers and Permanent Secretaries,

Distinguished guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good morning and Nisa Bula!

It gives me great pleasure to attend today’s ceremony for handing over Chinese agricultural machineries for the Vanua Levu Agricultural Development Project to the Government of Fiji. Thank you very much, Honorable Prime Minister Bainimarama, Honorable Ministers and all the other distinguished guests, for honoring us with your attendance.

I guess most of our guests would have the same sense of excitement as I have as we walked into this place to see such a spectacular view of so many brand news agricultural machineries lining up in front of us. The parade of these machineries is a vivid demonstration of the commitment of the Chinese government to a greater agricultural cooperation between our two countries. It is another highlight for celebration of the 40th anniversary of China-Fiji diplomatic relations

These machineries, which I will have the honor to officially hand over to the Honorable Prime Minister later, consist of 336 sets of farming machines of 11 categories and 36 kinds with the total value of 5 million Fijian dollars. They include excavators, bulldozers, tractors, graders, disc trenchers, plows, trans-planters, harvesters, sprayers, water pumps and many others. They are essential for different kinds of jobs of agricultural production, particularly for each and every step of rice farming. They will provide a big help to raise the productivity of agricultural production and a big boost to the Fijian Government’s modernization drive for its agricultural sector. I take great pride that China can contribute to Fiji’s agricultural modernization efforts.

China is a large country with a population of 1.3 billion. Food security is always a big concern for the Chinese government. With such a large population to be fed, we feel so keenly the important need for developing a modernized agriculture. As an old Chinese saying goes, having enough grains in stock makes you feel no worries. For China, To achieve self reliance and self sufficiency of food production is of strategic importance and is one of the basic policies of the nation. Through years of hard work, particularly with the advancement of science and technology and agricultural mechanization, China now is able to produce enough food to feed its 1.3 billion people, which takes 22% of world’s population with only 7% of the world’s cultivated land.

It is because China knows the importance of food security that we understand the desire of the Fijian Government to realize self sufficiency in rice production. To help to revitalize the rice industry, in December 2013, our two governments signed a MOU on implementation of the Project of Agriculture Development of Vanua Levu by using Chinese government grant. The project consists of agricultural machinery supply, technical cooperation and training on rice cultivation. I am pleased to see that since the start of project in the beginning of this year, under the care of the Honorable Prime Minister and with the strong support of Fijian Ministry of Agriculture and dedicated work of both Chinese and Fijian experts, the project has achieve satisfying results. 1600 local farmers have been trained. The average yield has reached 6.31 tons per hectare. The Chinese and Fijian experts have successfully indentified 7 promising local rice varieties, which will be used for planting in large scale throughout the countries. We are confident that as more farmers start to grow rice, using the right skills and techniques as well as the modern machinery, Fiji’s rice industry will be revitalized and will be able to produce enough rice to substitute foreign imports.

Fiji is endowed with many favorable climate and environmental conditions for rice farming. The development of agricultural sector has the great potential to contribute to the growth of Fiji ‘s economy and the further improvement of people’s livelihood. Over the years, our two sides have carried out several agricultural cooperation projects in Fiji. Apart from the rice project, another ongoing China aid agricultural project is worth particular mentioning, that is Juncao Mushroom Technical Cooperation in Nadi. I have accompanied the Honorable Prime Minister and Honorable Minister Seruiratu to visit that project. This is another example of successful China-Fiji agricultural cooperation. Like the rice project, it has many social and economic benefits, as it will not only make the “Made-in-Fiji” products available in both domestic and foreign markets, but also enable Fijian farmers to earn more income by using Juncao to feed cattle and growing mushrooms at home.

It is gratifying to see that both sides share the same goal and enthusiasm on these two important agricultural projects, which is most essential to the success of our cooperation. We are grateful for both the Chinese and Fijian experts for their hard work and their dedication. I also wish to thank the Honorable Prime Minister for your personal care and attention you have given to these projects, and thank the Prime Minister’s office, Ministry of Agriculture, and other ministries and department for the support to these projects. I believe with the joint efforts from both sides, China-Fiji agricultural cooperation will be a great success. It will become a role model for bilateral cooperation in other areas as we move forward along the road of building strategic partnership and long lasting friendship.

Thank you. Vinaka.

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