Cane Production Returns To Yalavu After 10 Years

Sugar cane production has been revived in an area in Sigatoka with 19 new land­owning farmers ready to replant with the hope of producing 10,000 tonnes of sugar cane by
26 May 2018 11:04
Cane Production Returns To Yalavu After 10 Years
Cane farmers in Yalavu, Sigatoka during a recent visit from the Fiji Sugar Corporation (FSC). Photo: Charles Chambers

Sugar cane production has been revived in an area in Sigatoka with 19 new land­owning farmers ready to replant with the hope of producing 10,000 tonnes of sugar cane by 2020.

The Fiji Sugar Corporation (FSC) believes this can be achieved since the area once pro­duced the same amount in 1995.

Last year, between September and October, the FSC team visited the Yalavu flats and had talks with villagers over the re-introduction of cane production.

“Should they produce this tonnage, then this should equate to around $800,000 for the farmers,” FSC’s chief operating officer Navin Chandra said.

Nawamagi, Narata and Nadrala villages make up the area and Mr Chandra said it was great to see i-Taukei landowners, who are now farmers, take up the challenge.

Yalavu is part of the Olosara sector and in 1995 harvested 77,000 tonnes but today the to­tal cane produced and harvested in this sec­tor is only 4,400 tonnes, according to FSC.

“The reason was that we have a lot of flat land here and most farmers have gone out of cane farming in this area,” he said.

Mr Chandra visited Nawamagi Village on October 31, 2017 and sat with the farmers to discuss their return to sugar cane planting.

Through the meeting, the Yalava Cane De­velopment programme was born.

The area previously had 105 growers in the but all, except for one, stopped planting after the old Sigatoka Rail Bridge was destroyed in 2009.

The total area for sugar cane planting then was 40 hectares.

The only cane farmer that continued was Peniasi Leyauli. He produced around 15 tonnes, which was equal to one truck load then.

At that time the leases expired for the sit­ting farmers and after they left, the land­owners tried to take up cane production but received little from, unlike what the Govern­ment is presently doing.

Now with the Cane Planting Grant (CPG) rolled out by Government, the interest has developed among the landowners to cultivate their land.

“We want to make this area into a model farm,” Mr Chandra said.

“This is mainly to show the people that from no cane 10 years ago, we can bring back cane production to the area.”

After cane production stopped, landowners started planting cassava.

The new incentives interested the farmers so much, the cassava was on the verge of be­ing uprooted, but they were advised to keep some for their consumption.

“The interest is there and they are grateful for all the support being give out by Govern­ment and the assistance by FSC,” Mr Chan­dra said.

“This includes the subsidies for fertilisers and weedicides and other assistance through the CPG. We are trying to revive areas like this.”

The area is mostly flat and with the harvest­ers now available, looking for labour for cane cutting will not be needed.

Etuate Nauro, 47, a grower from Nawamagi village said he was happy to get back into came production.

He has five acres but is starting with three acres only.

Isoa Tabani, 40 of Narata Village said his late father planted cane and he was now tak­ing over.

He applauded Government for all the assis­tance towards the sugar industry.

Seruvi Nanoki, 54, of Nadrala village his land was harvested and ready for planting by yesterday (FRI).

He used to plant cane before and was excit­ed to be back as a cane farmer.



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