THE cassava industry does not only benefit farmers, it also boosts economic activity in the wider community.
This was the comment by Vitawa Village headman Josefa Kasami while highlighting the economic boom fuelled by an increased exporter demand for cassava that is taking Ra Province by storm.
"Everybody benefits — farmers, labourers," he said.
"For the uprooting or harvesting of cassava, farm owners pay around $15-$20 per day to each harvester, meaning he can spend around $200 per day for those who help uproot the cassava plants.
"These boys or harvesters often attend to five farms in five days earning around $100 per week just for harvesting. After the payment to labourers, a farmer can earn as much as $3000 per acre."
Mr Kasami said cassava was an easy crop to manage.
"The hard work is only needed in the land preparation but then again we have tractors these days.
"Compared to sugarcane, cassava is easier and is best suited for iTaukei farmers because most are not familiar with cane farming. Another good thing about cassava is that it grows in all types of weather and requires little labour." He said most unused land in the village had been utilised for cassava farming including expired cane lease land.
"Most of the idle cane land is now being transformed into cassava plantations," Mr Kasami said.
"Most of us who were cane farmers are taking up cassava farming and we have benefited in a very short time.
"We don't have to worry about the transportation to the markets because export agents visit our doors to buy cassava. We are also happy with the price offered."