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Non-Sugar Farmers Assess Cyclone Impacts

Non-Sugar Farmers Assess Cyclone Impacts

THE Fiji Crop and Livestock Council (FCLC) had the opportunity last week to listen to registered commodity farmer members on the challenges Tropical Cyclone Winston imposed on their respective commodities.

The Farmers’ National Committee Association – Planning Workshop that was held in Suva turned into a needs assessment for the heads of national commodity associations and member farmers.

FCLC Chairman Simon Cole said the dialogue provided “a very structured and common sense approach to the economic recovery of the agricultural sector for all the commodities that FCLC represents.

“We’ll be able to then work with the authorities and the people distributing the aid and planning the economic recovery. FCLC will ensure the voice of the farmers is considered in the middle of this recovery process.”

Impact levels varied according to the geographical areas that were thumped by Cyclone Winston. Non-sugar commodities dalo, yaqona, cocoa, ginger, coconuts, grazing livestock (sheep, goats, beef), and beekeepers are situated in zones badly affected by the cyclone. The areas are: Taveuni, Cakaudrove, Bua, Koro, Gau, Lau, Naitasiri, Ra, and Tailevu, and includes proximate areas.

Affected farmers highlighted the need to repair or newly build farm structures, source seeds and animals to replenish lost crop and livestock, and fertilisers.

FCLC received last week a donation of $140,000 Fijian dollars from its New Caledonian counterpart, Chambre d’agriculture de Nouvelle-Calédonie (Chamber of Agriculture) to assist the Council’s relief efforts. While the Council continues to work closely with the Fiji Government, assistance from the European Union and the International Trade Centre has enabled the Cabinet-endorsed agriculture organisation to execute its programmes.

Meanwhile, there were calls by the commodity farmers to source plant and animal resources from the largely unaffected areas in the country. Biosecurity of Fiji (BAF), however, have implemented measures related to the transfer of crops and livestock between Fiji’s borders.

BAF is advising “farmers wishing to transfer planting materials from unaffected areas to affected areas to seek advice from BAF or the Ministry of Agriculture.”

The same advise goes for farmers contemplating the movement of live livestock animals from unaffected to affected areas.

In the case of dalo, there is concern for the spread of the existing quarantine declared taro beetle. For yaqona, the dieback disease related to kava crops is an issue. The high occurrence of new pests and diseases brought on by natural disasters was also highlighted at the workshop.

As government, through the Ministry of Agriculture, prepares its final agriculture assessment, Mr. Cole said that the Fiji Crop & Livestock Council “will use the final assessment as the basis of our response to how we need to interact with our farmers and how we should plug in to the various options.”

ENDS

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