Fiji Sun

Water bowsers to assist cane farmers


The deployment of new irrigation equipment to cane farmers throughout the country will assist them during drought periods to nurture their crops better.

Previously farmers stopped planting cane when the rains stopped and this led to loss of a bigger crop being grown. “Moisture is needed to germinate the cane and this enables to accelerate the planting much better than we were able to do,” Fiji Sugar Corporatio­n chief executive officer Graham Clark said.

Mr Clark and FSC Chief Operating officer Navin Chandra and other company staff were at a cane farm yesterday along the Nadi Back Road inspecting the work done by the company’s tractors and farming machines which were attached to them.

Mr Clark said the equipment was now in use.

“The excitement is the water bowsers where we can now plant in the dry season, get the cane to germinate and get a better growth. FSC had purchased tractors and farming equipment to assist farmers in the cultivatio­n of sugar.

Yesterday, Mr Clark confirmed all but two tractors have been deployed at all the cane belts.

“Our sector teams are informing the farmers of the equipment we have and which they can use.

“This (irrigation) is only supplement­ary and once the crop is planted and has germinated then it is fine,” Mr Clark said.

He said there were 20 water bowsers in use right now at farms that have not received any rainfall so far or have irrigation problems. Mr Chandra said in a four month period, the 20 bowsers could provide water to around 2000 hectares of cane farms.

“So one bowser could irrigate about five acres of land in a day,” Mr Chandra said, adding that each bowser carried 2500 litres of water each.

“What we are doing is looking for problems to create solutions so that cane planting is much better,” Mr Chandra said.

He said an example of the effect of drought on cane was in 2017 from April to the end of October where there was hardly any planting done.

Mr Clark said this was not a case of cane that was lost but rather of cane that was not planted where it should have been.

“This is the start where we are trying to fix the problems in the fields,” Mr Chandra said.

Crushing ready to start

Tui Macuata Ratu Wiliame Kaotinvere will begin the cane crushing season up north with the tipping of the first load at the Labasa Sugar Mill.

Yesterday, Mr Chandra confirmed that they have received 70 percent of the signed Memorandum of Gang Agreement forms ahead of the crushing date, June 19.

“We are expecting about 80 percent by the end of this week but that is normal and we expect al to be in before crushing starts.” Mr Chandra said the Labasa cane belts provide for about 40 per cent of the total crop crushed per season.

“We are excited about the crop this year for Labasa.”

The Lautoka Mill is the next to begin crush and this will be done by the Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimaram­a on July 3.

The Rarawai Mill in Ba will be the last to begin crush and this will take place on July 17. “So far all preparatio­ns are on track and we are looking forward to a better than last year in term of crushing.”

 ?? Photo: Charles Chambers ?? Fiji Sugar Corporatio­n chief executive officer Graham Clark and SC Chief Operating officer Navin Chandra.
Photo: Charles Chambers Fiji Sugar Corporatio­n chief executive officer Graham Clark and SC Chief Operating officer Navin Chandra.

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