Traditionally, farmers have relied heavily on inherited farming knowledge and practices to establish and manage their farms. A major challenge for the industry remains timely access to the latest farming advice.
This innovative project hopes to connect farmers to the latest information and advisory services to help boost their productivity. The project will first undertake market research to determine the information needs of farmers across several regions in the country.
“Agriculture is essential to Fiji’s people and economy, so we are keen to help improve farmers’ access to relevant and timely information through information communication technology (ICT). The findings of the market research will inform the next steps for our collaboration with Australia’s Market Development Facility (MDF),” explained Farid Mohammed, Digicel Fiji CEO.
As a result of farmers’ reliance on traditional forms of information, some farmers can be reluctant to try new farming methods or use improved agricultural inputs. This can affect the commercial viability and interest of local businesses in making these products and services more readily available to farmers. However, Fiji’s significant mobile penetration offers an opportunity for change.
According to the Ministry of Agriculture, around 63 percent of Fiji’s 52,000 farmers who participated in the ministry’s 2020 Census owned mobile phones. This indicates the huge potential to use mobile technology to share important information with a large population of farmers.
“Australia is investing in foundational work and research to support Fiji’s growing digital economy. Access to timely and relevant best practices, improved husbandry practices and weather information contributes to improved productivity and incomes for farming households,” said John Williams, Chargé d'affaires at the Australian High Commission in Suva.
The joint market research is expected to begin in March.