SUNBIZ

Vakabuli Paipai Sees Increased Pineapple Farming

Vakabuli Paipai in the interior of Lautoka, once a large sugar cane growing area, is becoming known now for pineapple cultivation with around 500,000 fruits being harvested each season.
21 Sep 2020 14:34
Vakabuli Paipai Sees Increased Pineapple Farming
Shamshad Ali with his son Mohammed Irshad and grandson Mohammed Izan at his pineapple farm at Vakabuli Paipai in the interior of Lautoka on September 14, 2020. Photo: Charles Chambers

Vakabuli Paipai in the interior of Lautoka, once a large sugar cane growing area, is becoming known now for pineapple cultivation with around 500,000 fruits being harvested each season.

The reduction in  sugar cane planting has been put down to escalating costs in harvesting, mainly brought about by demands by cane cutters hired from other districts.

Cultivation

Advisory councilor for Vakabuli Paipai, Shamshad Ali, is one of those farmers who have added pineapple to his cultivation and presently harvests around 3000 pineapples each year.

He still maintains his sugar cane farm which produces 150 tonnes, a drop from around 400 tonnes he used to harvest annually.

His grandparents, who came from India under the indentured labour system, settled here. Mr Ali has 15 acres of farm land with 12 acres used for cane farming and the remainder for pineapple.

“I plan to add another two acres for pineapple farming for the next season.

“The sugar cane farming is good as my son Mohammed Irshad and I can work the farm by ourselves.

“But the problem is when we have to buy things like gloves, knives, boots for the cane cutters, and the demands for high payment of cane per tonne.We sometimes have to buy these twice and then some of them do not work on Saturdays, even though they don’t work on Sundays which we respect.

“In the past when we never met some of the demands our cane fields were mysteriously burnt,” he claims.

Mr Ali said he presently he has a good group of cane cutters and this year was the first in 20 years where he harvested green cane.

“In the past I used to have three-four lorry loads of green cane and around 13 loads of burnt cane.”

Mr Ali said pineapple production was less expensive and there was almost no cost in harvesting as he handpicks the fruits.

“I am one pineapple farmer who does not use plant hormones which is being supplied to farmers to increase production.That is why people like the fruits they buy from me because it lasts longer in the markets after being harvested.”

He said he was grateful to Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and the Minister for Agriculture Mahendra Reddy who assisted the farmers who were into pineapple farming. Presently there were around 65 farmers in the area who were farming both sugar cane and pineapple.

Feedback:  maraia.vula@fijisun.com.fj

 



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