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Webinar on Commonwealth Youth Driving Innovation to Tackle Food Insecurity in Fiji | 16th Feb 2023 Recording


Hon. Rinesh Sharma; Fiji Parliament Member and Founder of Smart Farms Fiji

Moderated By

Julia Charlton; Chairman, the Commonwealth Chamber of Commerce

Fiji, though abundant in staple crops including cassava, yams, breadfruit and other root vegetables as well as seasonal fruits such as mangoes, pineapples and papayas, the predominant crop that is processed and manufactured is sugarcane and other varieties of fruits and vegetables have to be imported with some trade estimates suggesting Fiji spends approximately US$8 million annually to import fresh fruits and vegetables not found locally. According to the World Bank and Global Nutrition Report, almost 10% of the Fijian population is undernourished and 40% of children under the age of 15 suffer from malnourishment. At the same time, another challenge is the fact that 67% of the population is obese due to overconsumption of foods high in sugar and fats and underutilisation of fresh fruits and produce.

This online event is a special edition programme. As the first event of the year 2023, this webinar will reflect what has been proclaimed by the Commonwealth nations as the “Year of Youth” and a dedication to youth-led action for sustainable and inclusive post-COVID economic development. We are joined by Rinesh Sharma, the youngest member of the Fiji Parliament and Founder of Smart Farms Fiji, a hydroponic farming initiative dedicated to building sustainable and affordable farming “kits” for locals to use to grow over 15 different kinds of vegetables, herbs and spices from the convenience of their homes.

During the online discussion, Rinesh talks at length about how his experience with lack of access to nutritious food during his childhood and subsequently the devastating effects of COVID-19 spurred him into action to create a sustainable and affordable means of food cultivation for Fijians struggling with the effects of the downturned economy. Deep diving into the importance initiative by the youth of the Commonwealth to boost post-COVID recovery and create a thriving new ecosystem of startups and businesses, Rinesh urges the youth of Fiji and the Commonwealth to take up farming and learn more about the growing agro-tech industry. He also provides more insights on the country’s fishing industry and the immense untapped potential and outlines a few ways that it can be harnessed for further economic development.

Watch the full recording with instant playback via the YouTube link at the top of the page.

To watch Rinesh Sharma’s maiden speech in Parliament, click here.