Cane farmers struggle with waterlogging

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UNCDF/PICAP project support offi cer Karan Narayan, cane farmer Sushil Chand, Sugarcane Growers Council senior executive offi cer Roshil Kumar, and cane farmer Sheikh Rahim (left to right). Picture: SUPPLIED

Excessive rainfall has long been a curse for cane farmers in Fiji and with waterlogged farms being an increasingly common occurrence thanks to climate change, some have expressed their gratitude for a recently introduced parametric microinsurance plan.

Salaseini Koroi, who became a full-time cane farmer after her retirement from a teaching career said of her farm, “The water came right up to my knee when I went in the cane field. That was the last rain and the last payment that was done.

“For the parametric insurance, I came to know this last year when I came to the Sugarcane Growers (Council) office. I was told about this and I jumped to sign in because this was something totally different, its insurance for the farm, for the land, for the crops,” she said, adding that she felt lucky to receive a pay-out.

Prior to the insurance plan, paying labourers to drain waterlogged farmland was an expense many members of the Sugarcane Growers Council had to pay for either out of pocket or through loans, locking them in a cycle of income loss for every rainy season.

Drasa sector delegate Sheikh Rahim said the pay-out from the insurance came just in time for him to hire labourers for his two sugarcane farms.

Having been a farmer for 45 years, he is no stranger to flooding as he says his farm is in a low-lying area and on reclaimed land.

Fellow sector head, Sushil Chand suffers a similar problem on his 8-acre sugarcane farm.

He added that he intends to continue with the insurance plan as there is no end in sight for the rainfall damages.

“We are glad when initiatives are taken to benefit farmers. The country rests on the backs of farmers. If farmers have money, the nation has money,” Mr Chand added.

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