|SPC supports farmers in Fiji’s sugar cane belt|
|Friday, 08 February 2013 11:59|
Friday 8th February, 2013, Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), Suva – A European Union-funded project — Improving Key Services to Agriculture Fiji (IKSA) — is being rolled out by SPC’s Land Resources Division.
Over a three and a half year period, IKSA aims to help cushion the economic and social impacts of the restructuring of the Fiji sugar sector.
According to Inoke Ratukalou, Director of SPC’s Land Resources Division (LRD), the project will develop new opportunities in horticultural and sugar markets through research and the provision of assistance to farmers to venture into horticultural crops through improved access to agricultural inputs such as fertilisers, seeds and assistance with land preparation, as well as technical assistance on production and marketing.
‘Our intention is to assist the cane producers to supplement their income by utilising land that is under-utilised, as well farmers who are no longer growing cane and other farmers who live and farm in the periphery of the cane belt’.
‘We have often seen that not all land is used for cane, so we encourage farmers to consider growing economical crops that will generate income for them,’ Ratukalou said.
‘IKSA,’ he added, ‘will also facilitate the strengthening of farmers’ associations and private sector partnerships, and support the horticulture/food crops value chain to enhance supply capacity and replicate and strengthen the operations of fair trade associations.
‘Where possible, achievements delivered through the project will be shared with other Pacific Island countries and territories.’
The target beneficiaries will be mainly the 200,000 Fijians living in the sugar cane belt’s five provinces, whose livelihoods rely entirely or partly on sugar cane farming. They include 17,000 registered growers and 12,000 seasonal cane cutters.
The project addresses the needs of farm households rather than individual farmers, focusing on the needs of women and youth in relation to on and off-farm activities, as well as improving the production capacity of seeds and seedlings for horticulture/food crops.