IT has taken about 20 years but the Sugar Research Institute of Fiji has added two new varieties of sugarcane to the existing 17 types used by farmers all over Fiji.
Named Qamea and Viwa, these two breeds of sugarcane were officially launched in Ba yesterday by Prime Minister Rear Admiral Voreqe Bainimarama.
In his opening address, he said both varieties were Fijian-made and suited the Fijian climate.
"Qamea took 20 years to develop and it is an early-to-mid maturing variety with high cane yield, suitable to all soil types, no sheath hair, convenient for harvesting by hand and high millable stalks," he said.
"Viwa took 10 years to develop and it is a mid-to-late maturing variety, thin but tall cane, does not lodge, is tolerant of dry conditions, grows well in very poor soils, has high fibre content suitable for cogeneration and has never flowered, meaning that it never stops growing."
He said Qamea and Viwa were the 18th and 19th cane varieties, respectively, to have been developed in the country by Fijian scientists.
"I'm told that for the first time after the research phase, the Sugar Research Institute of Fiji carried out field trials on seven farms to test these new varieties in different environments. After the release of the new varieties, the onus is clearly on canegrowers to make good use of them."
Sugar Research Institute of Fiji acting CEO Sanjay Prakash said farmers had a choice.
"Research indicates that Qamea produces approximately 10 to 15 per cent more sugar than other commercial varieties when planted and harvested at the same time."