SUNBIZ

Jatinder Singh: Cane Farming Practice 100 Years Old

Jatinder Singh, who is in the country for agricultural development and sugarcane research, said he was also surprised to know about the declining production.
29 Jun 2019 14:16
Jatinder Singh: Cane Farming Practice 100 Years Old
Jatinder Singh

An Indian businessman and farmer believes the system of cultivating sugarcane in Fiji is primitive, something which he says is 100 years old.

Jatinder Singh, who is in the country for agricultural development and sugarcane research, said he was also surprised to know about the declining production.

“And a lot of people like farmers are not even interested in taking this up as their main work.

“Some of them have sold their farms and some farmers are not doing what they should be doing,” he said.

Western division

Mr Singh said he visited the Western Division and met some farmers, who shared their problems with him.

“But what i saw is that sugarcane cultivation is still very primitive. Farmers just cultivate and they harvest once a year when the crop is ready,” he said.

“They just leave it like that and they do it for 10 to 15 years. A farmer told me they keep the crop for a long period of time because it multiplies and the yield increases.

“I told them that the yield will never increase this way but instead it will go down, and that in India and other parts of the developed world, they don’t keep the crop for more than three years.

“In India, some farmers don’t even take the crop for two years. But three years is fine where you get the best yield and then uproot and change it.

“If you remove sugarcane after three years and don’t grow it on the same field for at least one year and just shift to some other field, then it will increase the fertility of the soil on that land.”

Mr Singh also said there was a need for inter-cropping in Fiji to enrich the soil which is required for the growth of sugarcane.

“If you grow sugarcane for 10 to 15 years, then the fertility of the soil will go down drastically. This is the old practice, like a 100-year old practice,” he said.

India

He added: “What we do in India is have a five feet gap between the rows of sugarcane and in that gap we grow cash crops.

“We have even developed a small tractor and other machinery which can move in that five feet area and these machinery can even be used on the roads.

“Sugarcane takes 11 to 12 months to mature while the cash crops take three to four months to get ready for harvesting.

“If cash crops are grown between the rows, then farmers can have at least three harvests a year compared to the one harvest of sugarcane in one year.”

He said this would increase sugarcane production because the soil will be fertile and farmers will also be enriched with a lot of cash from those crops and it will also cut down on imports.

Feedback: avinesh.gopal@fijisun.com.fj

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