SUNBIZ

Salt Water Intrusion Affects Some Cane Growers In Drasa

Four farms in Drasa Seaside Machine Gang 91 have been affected by sea water intrusion. Gang leader, Hira Naidu, said this was caused by recent issues with the flood gate
26 Aug 2021 11:30
Salt Water Intrusion Affects Some Cane Growers In Drasa
Cane grower Pushpa Wati showing the height at which the seawater reached. Photo: Shreya Kumar.

Four farms in Drasa Seaside Machine Gang 91 have been affected by sea water intrusion.

Gang leader, Hira Naidu, said this was caused by recent issues with the flood gate in the area.

It is understood the problem had persisted from April to June.

Vinod Prasad, cane gang member and cane grower said he lost around 100 tonnes of cane because of the salinisation of the soil.

“I harvested 300 tonnes of cane as opposed to the usual 400 tonnes.”

“Now I would need to replant my cane because the existing roots are damaged.”

Mr Prasad said he would leave his farm barren for one year for it to regain its fertility.

 

What Can Farmers Do:
Sugar Research Institute of Fiji Chief Executive Officer, Mahimairaja Santiago, has urged farmers to practice proper drainage system.

“Proper drainage would leach sodium from the soil which is caused by saltwater intrusion,” he said.

“When the sodium is prominent in the soil, farmers could apply gypsum (calcium sulfate) to the soil to leach the salt.”

“Irrigation of the land and the drainage which would help in leaching is important,” he said.

Professor Mahimairaja said the institute would be conducting a survey in collaboration with Fiji Sugar Corporation on the matter.

“The research will be compiled in a couple of months.”

“We will be able to draw recommendations once the research has been compiled,” he said.

 

Pushpa Wati
Despite some major setbacks, Pushpa Wati has successfully harvested over 100 tonnes of sugar cane this crushing season.

Ms Wati’s 15-acre farm in Drasa, Lautoka was challenged with salinisation when the floodgate protecting her farm malfunctioned.

“Previously, I harvested around 300 tonnes of cane, but this year the tonnage dropped,” she said.

“Around 200 tonnes of cane got dry due to the level of salinity in the soil.”

She said she managed to harvest 178 tonnes.

One of the only two female cane growers in the Drasa Mechanical Harvester Gang 57, Ms Wati took the support of the sugar industry when her husband passed away in 2013.

“I had been farming with my husband before, but after his farming I had to take total control over the farm,” she said.

“I work alone on the farm, with some help from my two sons.

“I hire a tractor for land ploughing and use a mechanical harvester to harvest my cane.”

Farming for over 28 years, Ms Wati said sugarcane was a very viable crop to farm looking at the geographical factors in the west coast of Viti Levu.

Ms Wati said she was determined to begin planting for the next season when the wet season approached.

“I will aim to harvest around 300 tonnes next year – just like the previous years,” she said.

 

Feedback: shreya.kumar@fijisun.com.fj



Five Square diwali dhamaka 2021


Get updates from the Fiji Sun, handpicked and delivered to your inbox.


By entering your email address you're giving us permission to send you news and offers. You can opt-out at any time.


Tower Insurance
FNPF
Covid 19 - SPC
Fiji Sun Instagram
Subscribe-to-Newspaper