Island News

Technologies help increase production

Written By : Monika Mala Ministry of Primary Industries. Agriculture Ministry is calling on the farmers to use modern technologies into their farming activities in a bid to increase production.
18 Aug 2009 12:00

Written By : Monika Mala Ministry of Primary Industries. Agriculture Ministry is calling on the farmers to use modern technologies into their farming activities in a bid to increase production.
There are many advantages of using the various types of technologies in farming activities which always has the positive impact on the quality of the commodity.
Some of the technologies of producing good quality produce are planting improved and high yielding varieties of crops, phase planting, staking, sylon shade, using raise beds and Integrated Pest Management (IPM), plastic mulching and planting in green houses.
Senior Agriculture Officer (Nadroga/Navosa), Govind Raju said many farmers in Sigatoka are seeking assistance from the Agriculture Ministry on new technologies to improve their farm production.
One such farmer is Babu Pillay of Barara Sigatoka who is reaping the benefits of utilizing the right technology at the right time.
An elderly farmer who takes the full farm responsibility is geared towards adapting the new technologies for higher production.
“I am grateful to the Agriculture Ministry in giving me support and assistance for planting materials, agri inputs and assisting with irrigation system because I was left with nothing when the devastating flood struck at the beginning of the year,” said Mr Pillay.
Mr Raju said the farmer was assisted under the Sigatoka Valley Development Project as well as under the Import Substitution Programme of the Extension Services Division.
‘I had to start from scratch but my determination, hard work and a lot of sacrifice has made me where I am today,” said Mr Pillay.
Mr Pillay owns 10 acre of land and also has leased some more land for farming. He has planted crops including Chinese cabbage, English cabbage, eggplant, long bean, tomatoes, cowpea, cucumber, pawpaw, lemon and many more.
Mr Raju said Pillay is a very cooperative farmer who often consults Ministry for new methods of farming.
“I came to know about the benefits of sylon shade so I approached Agriculture Ministry and I was granted some assistance under the Ministry’s rehabilitation programme,” said Mr Pillay.
Mr Pillay was assisted with materials for sylon shade and poles on one third two third basis. He planted English cabbage under sylon shade in roughly half acre of land.
“I have recently bought a rotovator for inter row cultivation which is very handy in land preparation.”
Mr Raju said Pillay was the first person to harvest English cabbage under the sylon shade technology in Sigatoka Valley.
“Not only this he has harvested twice and third one is currently going to be planted so under sylon shade he has managed to get three crops whereas without sylon shade only two crops is possible,” said Mr Raju.
“Besides we have to work whole day under the scorching sun just imagine what happens to the tender crops, it can’t resist the hot climate which affects the production,” said Mr Pillay.
“In my first harvest, I sold around 320 bags with one bag having 22 English cabbage in it for $25.00 and all together I had 54 rows with 130 plants per row,” said Mr Pillay.
Now with the supply situation improving into the market Pillay sells English cabbage for $15 per bag.
“There is a vast difference in cultivating crops under sylon shade as it really impacts the quality in particular size, shape and weight,” said Mr Pillay.
He said the growth of the plants is very fast, healthy and requires less irrigation under sylon shade.
Mr Raju said the purpose of sylon shade is to control the amount of light that filters into the crops as well as it also cushions the water during heavy downpour.
“It also retains moisture content and has easy structure,” added Mr Raju.
Pillay has prepared the land with the help of rotovator and he plans to plant Chinese cabbage under sylon shade now.
“Sylon shade involves high investment so we recommended farmers to plant high value crops like capsicum, tomatoes, lettuce, cucumber etc,” added Mr Raju.
“I have eight full time labourers who help me out with land preparation, planting, weeding, harvesting and all other farming activities,” added Pillay.
He has planted Eggplant in half acre, pawpaw in one acre, tomatoes in half acre of land.
Pillay has planted pawpaw on ridges, a technology that allows water to properly drain out from the field.
Mr Raju said commodities like pawpaw should be planted in ridges as it is a very delicate crop and needs care from day one,” said Mr Raju.
Farmers have to ensure with the amount of nutrient required by the high investment crops and somewhat weed is also controlled by ridges but if weed competes with the plant, then the fertilizer will be used by it and the farmer will go into loss,” he added.
Pillay has done staking of tomatoes and long bean.
“Staking is done to give a vigorous growth, easy picking and pruning should be done so that the level of vegetative growth is higher for the fruits and it gets the maximum amount of food.”
Mr Raju said pruning will give a big size produce, also weight will increase and more light can filter in.
He added that in wet weather conditions leaves and fruits can get rot, so when staked they are safe from diseases.
Mr Raju said for off-season it is recommended that farmers should practice staking though it can be practiced all year around.
Mr Pillay has also planted amaranthus with cucumber in open field so that cucumber gets enough shade from amaranthus plant and it somewhat prevents cucumber from wilting.
Mr Pillay also used to do intercropping with maize and beans as maize is an ideal crop for intercropping.
“Maize is a hungry crop which consumes a lot more nutrient, so when legumes crop is intercropped with maize it is a source of nutrient for the plant,” explained Mr Raju.
All his crops are transported to Suva market on weekly basis and sometimes when exporters face shortage of crops then he sells it to them.
“Agriculture Ministry frequently visits my farm for inspection and technical advisory services and I also consult them on improved technologies for better production,” said Mr Pillay.
“Many farmers in Sigatoka were assisted with pressurerized irrigation system with the source of water from Sigatoka River using low lift sprinkler system,” said Mr Raju.
Mr Raju said under the Sigatoka Valley Development Project 39 farmers group were formed in the province who could share this irrigation system.
“This sprinkler system is more suitable for the field crops such as tomatoes, eggplant as well as ideal for pawpaw plants,” added Mr Raju.
Mr Raju said this system is a long term investment with advantages of shifting it from one place to the other.
“Ministry also provides a mechanic for repairing and servicing of the system and as such it assist farmers save some money,” said Mr Raju.

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