Opinion

EDITORIAL: Indian Govt Must Be Applauded For Timely Assistance To Our Farmers

A problem that once faced the sugarcane industry was lack mechanisations along with labour shortages. With the $2.17 million grant given by the Indian Government yesterday for the mechanisation of
08 Dec 2017 18:27
EDITORIAL: Indian Govt Must Be Applauded For Timely Assistance To Our Farmers

A problem that once faced the sugarcane industry was lack mechanisations along with labour shortages.

With the $2.17 million grant given by the Indian Government yesterday for the mechanisation of sugarcane farms around Fiji, this should no longer be such a problem. This will no doubt come as a thumbs up and bring smiles to the sugarcane farmers as the new machines will soon arrive on our shores.

The level of farm mechanisation in Fiji remains low compared to Asian countries. The majority of our farmers mainly rely on human and animal power.

However, with increasing labour shortages on farms, mechanisation is seen as the best way forward.

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama said the cheque of $2,172,576.35 from the Indian High Commissioner to Fiji, Vishvas Sapkal,  was for the interim sourcing of agricultural equipment from India, focusing on the sugarcane fields.

In the colonial era, sugarcane farmers were primarily reliant on manual labour, work animals and simple tools and technology.

After independance there was a gradual increase in the use of artificial and technological inputs, for example in the use of tractors and other machinery and equipment, new varieties of sugarcane and fertilisers and so on.

Farm production and harvesting however was still heavily dependent on manual labour, work animals, simple technology and the definitive constraits imposed by short term leases.

Expiring leases many of which were not renewed had a devastating impact on the sugar industry, but the reforms implemented by the current Government with the renewal of leases on longer economically viable terms and increased government assistance to farmers and continual investment in all areas of production has resulted in a remarkable resurgence that bodes well for the future of the sugar industry.   

The $2.17 million grant by the Indian government for the mechanisation of sugarcane farms is a welcome investment that will certainly boost sugar production to higher levels in the years to come.

Mechanisation ensures efficiency and will help yield farm returns and increase export earnings.

Mr Bainimarama has acknowledged the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government for their continued assistance especially in the field of agriculture.

He said the machines would no doubt assist our Fijian farmers and not only make things easy for them, but cut down the cost of operations. While the farmers can wait for a bit more it is understood the machines would be Indian made.

Through the Government initiative last year, 20 mechanical harvesters were purchased and before the 2018 sugarcane season harvesters would be purchased and Government would also be providing assistance to cooperatives for the purchase of tractors.

We thank the Indian government for an early Christmas present that will greatly help our sugarcane farmers.

Feedback:  losirene.lacanivalu@fijisun.com.fj



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