NEWS

Fiji Sugar Industry Now Under Threat By Asian Subterranean Termites

Sugar industry authorities are doing their best to address the problem by placing baits, but one farmer says it is not working. Nand Kishore, 68, a farmer of Qalitu in Lautoka said he had been facing the problem for almost nine years.
01 Mar 2019 12:18
Fiji Sugar Industry Now Under Threat By Asian Subterranean Termites
Asian Subterranean Termites

Asian subterranean termites are attacking sugarcane farms in Lautoka and causing substantial financial losses to some farmers.

Sugar industry authorities are doing their best to address the problem by placing baits, but one farmer says it is not working. Nand Kishore, 68, a farmer of Qalitu in Lautoka said he had been facing the problem for almost 9 years.

“I have been planting cane and when some don’t grow I check and find that termites have eaten it up,” he said. “And there’s nothing much in the cane when it grows. When it’s harvested there’s nothing in the cane. It’s hollow.

“The termites have been eating the cane  as a result there’s no weight in the cane.”

Mr Kishore said when he started cane farming after retiring as a teacher about 11 years ago, he harvested 200 tonnes and production slowly increased to 450 tonnes.

But, he said, cane production started dropping after three years and he did not know the actual reason.

“About four years ago, cane cutters saw that there was nothing left in the cane which they harvested on my farm,” he said.

“The termites are causing a big loss as I apply fertiliser and also pay for labourers to work in the farm. The Sugar Research Institute of Fiji (SRIF) has been putting baits in my farm for the past five years but it’s not working at all.”

Mr Kishore said about 15 farmers in the Buabua-Qalitu area had been affected by the termite infestation.

“Overall, I have been suffering a financial loss of about 60 per cent from my sugar cane farm annually in recent years.

“I’ve also spent about $6000 so far to fix up my house but some more work is still left to be done. From what I’ve been seeing in recent years, if nothing is done to control the termites then they will just finish the sugar industry in years to come,” said Mr Kishore.

Shalendran Vimal Naidu, 42, said termites had eaten up parts of his house in Qalitu.

“They have eaten up the entire avocado and custard apple trees in my compound. The mango and lemon trees are also about to go,” he said.

Sugar Cane Growers Council chief executive officer, Sundresh Chetty said all cases reported to the council had been referred to the SRIF. SRIF acting chief executive officer, Prem Naidu said the institute was managing the termites problem by placing baits in the affected farms. Fiji Sugar Corporation chief executive officer Graham Clark said the corporation was working closely with the SCGC and SRIF to address the problem.

Mr Clark said at the same time farmers were being encouraged to plant more cane.

Edited by Percy Kean

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