NEWS

Burning Of Sugarcane Leads To Huge Loss To Labasa Farmers

Clyde Smith lost more than 2000 cassava plants, 1000 bele plants, 300 Vudi plants, 100 eggplant, 250 Dalo-ni-tana, 300 coconut trees, 60 pine trees, 250 tons cane and 8 goats were unaccounted.
24 Sep 2019 12:39
Burning Of Sugarcane Leads To Huge Loss To Labasa Farmers
The fire at Qelewaqa in Labasa yesterday . Photo: Mohammed Zulfikar.

Three sugarcane farmers in Qelewaqa in Labasa are calculating their losses after a fierce fire destroyed their plantations covering more than 130 acres of land.

Though there was no loss of human life, one farmer lost everything on his farm.

Clyde Smith lost more than 2000 cassava plants, 1000 bele plants, 300 Vudi plants, 100 eggplant, 250 Dalo-ni-tana, 300 coconut trees, 60 pine trees, 250 tons cane and 8 goats were unaccounted.

Mr Smith’s caretaker William Smith said, yesterday he asked one of the cane cutters to burn a small portion of the cane so that it could be harvested later in the afternoon.

“Around 12 pm I was informed by my wife that the fire was out of control and National Fire Authority was called,” he said.

Adrea Bulavakarua, who lit the fire, said the wind was too strong and they could not control the fire as it spread to other farms.

“It was out of control and it was burning very quickly. We ran to the house we were staying in and took all our belongings out and started evacuating everyone.”

 Adrea Bulavakarua took all their belongings outside during the fire at Qelewaqa in Labasa yesterday .   Photo:  Mohammed Zulfikar.

Adrea Bulavakarua took all their belongings outside during the fire at Qelewaqa in Labasa yesterday .
Photo: Mohammed Zulfikar.

Another cane farmer, Suresh Chand, said he had only two labourer’s who was cutting his cane and now more than 200 tons of his cane was burnt.

“I don’t know how the cane will be harvested. Both my legs are amputated and I am 60 years old.

“How long will it take to harvest my cane; I have lost everything in the fire. I have loans to pay and now this has happened. Who will pay for this?” said a tearful Mr Chand.

Neighbours came to the aid of these farmers with tractors and water pumps to put out the fire.

The National Fire Authority said it received a call around 12.13 pm and reached the farm around 12.20 pm.

Fiji Sun observed that the NFA tried its best to put out the fire but it was out of their control since the fire was spreading too fast with the change in wind direction.

When this edition went to press, the fire had crossed towards Lomaloma settlement in Qelewaqa and the NFA was still trying its best to douse the flames.

The total damage to the sugar cane for the three farms was estimated to be more than $60,000.

Feedback: mohammed.zulfikar@fijisun.com.fj



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