Feature

The Only Female Cane Cutter In Siberia, Labasa Prevails

A 69 year-old widow and cane cutter shares her story of overcoming strife and the sucesss to be found in the cane fields.
31 Jul 2020 16:20
The Only Female Cane Cutter In Siberia, Labasa Prevails
Parvati, 69, of Macuata, is at the cane field at 5am daily.

Parvati is believed to be the only female cane cutter in Siberia, Labasa.

The 69-year-old grandmother was seen in old ragged clothes working on a three-acre farm along Emily Road around 8:30am yesterday.

She was among 12 i-Taukei cane cutters.

Rejection

Parvati told how she was rejected by her daughter-in-law.

A man by the name Abdul offered her land with a house and cane field to live and work on, she said.

“This is the seventh year for two of my daughters, two grandchildren and I to live and work on the farm,” Ms Parvati said.

“Whatever money is earned from the supply of around 63 tonnes of cane annually is being paid to the landowner.”

Agreement

She said they had an agreement that after six years of loan would be paid off, the land would be given to her.

“I am the only female in my area who works in the farm, clearing weeds, putting fertiliser and cut cane,” the eldest of 14 siblings said.

“My neighbour has allowed me to use his land to plant vegetables and root crops and from the produce, I prepare meals for the labourers who come from Bua.”

Leaving a legacy

She is on the farm at 5am, daily.

Parvati spent the past 30 years cutting cane.

“My parents didn’t send me to school because it was very far and neither I could send my children to school.

“Some men laugh at my clothes and when they see me working on the farm, but I don’t care,” the mother of five children said.

“There was one occasion when my husband was alive and suffering from a heart problem, one farmer teased me and asked me to marry him.

“I picked up a broom and hit him on his face to teach him a lesson, not to underestimate the power of a woman.”

Her health has since slowed her pace of work on the farm.

“I am not worried about death because I know I have done enough and my daughters and grandchildren can survive on the success of sugarcane farming, ”Ms Parvati said.

Feedback: shratika.naidu@fijisun.com.fj

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