THE indiscriminate removal of trees in the highlands of the Western Division, to make way for real estate or for agriculture purposes, has to be looked at if the country is to successfully address flooding in the area.
This is the view of Primary Industries Minister Joketani Cokanasiga.
"Cane growers that remove trees on hillsides to make way for increasing their plantation size is one of the key issues in increasing water run-off, especially in times of heavy rainfall," he told The Fiji Times in Nadi yesterday.
"Likewise, farmers that grow crops right up to the edge of riverbanks are also contributing to increased sedimentation and degradation of riverbanks, which all contribute to flooding.
"We try to discourage growers from farming right up to the edge of riverbanks but then again, riverbanks are the best and most fertile areas to plant on.
"We also acknowledge that the further inland farmers go, the greater their difficulty in irrigating crops."
Mr Cokanasiga said through the MPI's Land Resources and Water Management Division, growers were being advised on best farming practices in the hope that those would be implemented to reduce the impacts of flooding in the Western Division.
Mr Cokanasiga is in Nadi to attend the Ministers of Agriculture and Forestry Services meeting that convenes tomorrow at the Tanoa International Hotel.