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Boost For Sugarcane Farmers As Road Works Begin

Boost For  Sugarcane  Farmers As Road Works Begin
Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama with Commisssioner Western Manasa Tagicakibau at Tunalia in Nadi yesterday. Photo: WAISEA NASOKIA
March 15
11:00 2017

 

Sugarcane farmers in the western division were happy to see road rehabilitation works officially commence yesterday on 29 kilometres of cane access roads.

This began taking place in the Malolo sector in Nadi.

Once completed, the road works would benefit over 2000 cane farming households in the area, thanks to the significant partnership between the European Union (EU), the Pacific Community (SPC) and Government.

The construction works were officially launched by Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama in Malolo.

The $30 million road rehabilitation works, funded by the EU under their ‘Accompanying Measures for the Sugar Protocol’ (AMSP) programme, are being implemented by the SPC’s Rural Access Roads and Associated Infrastructure (RARAI) project.

The project will see over 200 kilometres of cane access roads and drainage systems in the Malolo, Drasa and Koronubu cane sectors, rehabilitated between now and the 2018 cane crushing seasons.

Besides the road rehabilitation, the RARAI project supports and promotes income generation for the most vulnerable populations in the sugar communities through creating employment possibilities during the construction period.

It would also have environmental benefits as it would reduce soil erosion.

Mr Bainimarama said: “The road to markets in Fiji and beyond begins here, where you take produce and cane that you have just harvested from the fields.

“These roads will reduce delays and unnecessary labour, and they will help ensure that as our sugar cane industry grows and remains a sustainable source of livelihood for our people, your cane will get to the mills and your crops will reach markets in Fiji and beyond.

“They hold the promise that the way of life you all know and cherish can continue unabated.”

The PM also thanked the EU for their contribution and commended its work with Government to “reshape the sugar cane industry to make it the most competitive and productive it has ever been, even in an era of great change in the global sugar market.”

EU Ambassador for the Pacific Andrew Jacobs said: “This project tackles a key challenge for farmers, in particular in more remote areas of Fiji by easing the transportation of sugar to the mills.

“The project has also an important social component, as it will provide employment for vulnerable groups of the population.

“It is therefore an important element in the EU’s ongoing support to the sugar sector in Fiji. There is now a lot of effort to implement the rehabilitation of the access roads in a short period of time, while all stakeholders will still need to be closely associated.”

SPC’s chief adviser, Patricia Sachs-Cornish said: “SPC is proud to support the advancement of Fiji’s sugar cane industry through the RARAI project.

“The project will directly benefit a minimum of a thousand farmers in the three sectors through the upgrading of close to 210km of cane access roads.

“Drain rehabilitation is also an important element of the project and around 30km of field drains will be cleaned and cleared to improve water drainage systems in the targeted cane belt areas.

“In the coming months, the project will engage selected cane farmers and sugar cane industry stakeholders in the formulation of a maintenance plan for these roads, thus strengthening their ownership of the project.”

Edited by Ranoba Baoa

Feedback: jyotip@fijisun.com.fj

 

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