‘Pleas fallen on deaf ears’ – Farmers await ministry’s response

Tevita Ravavai points to the damaged Flood gate at Dravo village in Tailevu. Picture: ATU RASEA

Farmers in Dravo Village, Tailevu say constant flash flooding is affecting their crops, impacting on their livelihood and has led to the downsizing of workers.

They claimed their pleas to fix a damaged floodgate in Dravo had fallen on deaf ears.

Dravo Village turaganikoro Tevita Ravavai said it was futile for farmers to plant vegetables and root crops because of the damaged floodgate and constant flash flooding.

“The floodgate hasn’t been fixed for over a year now,” he said.

“We’ve sent emails, called and written letters to the relevant authorities and the Waterways Ministry, but they haven’t assisted us at all despite them saying they would.

“We have even hand delivered our letters to their offices.”

Mr Ravavai said he recently leased 50 acres of land to a new farmer and about 80 farmers were planting on adjacent parcels of land.

“I really feel sorry for these farmers as they haven’t been able to plant anything at all because of the flooding problem.”

He said the bridge across the floodgate had also been damaged for quite some time.

“The government road leading from the bridge and floodgate has not been maintained – it is currently used daily but has huge potholes which obviously needs gravelling.

“The last road upgrade was done in 2014 and the farmers will need to use this road to take building materials to the farm, cart crops to the market and also use it daily. The ground level near the floodgates is higher than the level on the farm and this causes water to be retained in basins on the tenants farm.

“We need serious help to solve these problems so villagers can farm well and look after their families and in return pay us land rent.”

New farmer Yin Zhi Ming said he had to let some of his employees go because of the constant flash flooding.

“I had 15 boys from the different households in the village working for me, but now I can only employ three,” he said.

“The one acre of long bean, cabbage and cucumber that I had planted were all destroyed recently because of the seawater.”

Mr Zhi Ming claimed he had also sent emails with pictures and letters to the relevant authorities but had not received any response.

“We don’t know what else we have to do to get their attention because we are also out of ideas on how we can plant our crops and vegetables. We’ve had to make our own small floodgates but even that is no use – I’ve put in so much money, time and effort but in the end I lose.”

  • Questions sent to the Ministry of Waterways remained unanswered when this edition went to press.

More Stories