In a significant step forward for agricultural development, the new Centre for Agriculture Technology Transfer (CATT), also known as the Smart Farm, officially opened its doors Friday, 14 June 2024 in Nausori, Fiji.

This ambitious project is a joint effort between the Ministry of Agriculture and Waterways of Fiji and the Taiwan Technical Mission (TTM), supported by the Taiwan International Cooperation Fund (TaiwanICDF).

“This moment is filled with hope and opportunity as we witness the perfect integration of agriculture and technology,” said Paul Yin Lien-Chen, Taiwan Trade Office Representative, during the opening ceremony. 

“The Smart Farm is not just a place for agricultural production but a holistic ecosystem that combines technology, environmental protection, and community sharing.”

The centre is equipped with state-of-the-art facilities including tissue culture laboratories, technologically controlled greenhouses, and solar-powered clean energy systems. It aims to enhance the quality and quantity of agricultural production in Fiji, while promoting sustainable agricultural practices through the use of big data and artificial intelligence.

“We aim to enhance the quality and quantity of agricultural production in Fiji while maximising resource utilisation, achieving sustainable agricultural development.

“Our focus extends beyond productivity and efficiency to include variety improvement and environmental protection and contributions to the Fijian community,” Lien-Chen emphasised. 

“Through collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture of Fiji, we will develop new crop varieties, mentor farmers, and promote local agricultural economic development.”

Dr Charles Li, Secretary-General of TaiwanICDF, expressed his delight at the opening, highlighting the centre’s resilience in overcoming the delays caused by the pandemic. 

“It has been over three years since the groundbreaking ceremony. Even so, Taiwan Technical Mission has been working here since 2023, driving various operations,” Dr Li said.

The centre, which cost FJD$3 million (US$1.3 million) to set up, includes a training hall, a tissue culture lab, a processing facility, a smart nursery, staff quarters, and demonstration fields. It serves as a platform for teaching the latest advancements in agricultural technology to extension officers and farmers.

Dr Andrew Tukana, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture and Waterways, highlighted the significance of this new facility. 

“Today signifies a momentous achievement, showcasing our mutual dedication to agricultural research, development, and training,” Dr Tukana said. 

“The fruit sector in Fiji is currently underdeveloped, and we are thankful to the Taiwan Technical Mission for taking up this challenge to benefit all farmers in the country.”

The initial batch of tissue culture banana planting materials from the centre has already been successfully distributed and cultivated at the Navuso Agriculture Technical Institute. This facility will also train farmers in producing high-quality bananas for local and future export markets.

Looking ahead, Dr Li shared his optimism for future collaborations, mentioning potential partnerships with organisations such as USAID and JICA. 

“I believe this centre will continuously mobilise more resources to enhance its function and efficiency,” he said. “Taiwan will always stand together with our friend, Fiji.”

Dr Tukana echoed this sentiment, expressing his gratitude to all partners involved. 

“I look forward to continued collaboration and coordination to ensure further development of the sector,” he said.

The opening of CATT marks a significant milestone in Fiji’s agricultural journey, promising a brighter, more sustainable future for its farming communities.

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