The contract was signed by the Minister of Agriculture, Livestock, Forestry, Fisheries and Biosecurity (MALFFB), Hosea Nevu and Aaron Prendergast of VAS.
The signing of the contract follows a Government tender process for VAS to supply three tractors to the Ministry of Agriculture.
The main objective of the agreement is part of a continuity of mechanization policy of MALFFB through the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development to support and assist local farmers to increase production of food and cash crop at their farm level.
“There is a lot of potential crops that the department of agriculture is encouraging our farmers to plant and we have identified the need for tractors to support them to increase their productivity which is the fundamental role of the Department of Agriculture,” said Antoine Ravo, Director for DARD.
There are challenges in place in relation to access to high production inland areas and the need of expanding feeder roads to allow access of produce supplying the markets and the community households.
“Our plan for this year is to also encourage youth and women to invest in agriculture as a business to earn their living, so the use of such farm tractors will eventually assist DARD officers and farmers to collectively increase production,” Mr Ravo added.
He said that DARDs’ long term plan is to purchase more tractors and rotovators to address food security needs of farming communities and also increase production of roots crops and other cash crops like citrus, kava, noni and fruit trees.
“So far we have six tractors located on Tanna, Erromango, Efate, Epi and Santo. Three of the tractors are not fully operational so DARD is planning to sale these tractors to groups of farmers who are interested to use.”
“Now we will have three more new tractors under this contract agreement with VAS.
The tractors will be operated by DARD provincial officers. Farmers will also be taught how to operate the tractors.
The Department of Agriculture will continue to emphasize to private individuals who have the financial capacity to purchase their own tractor to assist DARD to provide its services to farmers in rural areas.
The Business Development Manager for VAS, Aaron Prendergast, reaffirms the commitment of VAS to continue working to support DARD.
“I really believe in agriculture. I am so happy with this commitment,” said Mr Prendergast.
Mr Prendergast said that upgrading of technical skills of maintenance and operating tractor and other important areas of tractors is very important.
Photo supplied Caption: DARD tractors plough land on a farm in Epi island