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Women take on cane challenge

Luke Rawalai
Sunday, June 18, 2017

WOMEN continue to stamp their mark on the cane fields of Seaqaqa producing as much cane and shouldering the ups and downs of the sugar industry with their male counterparts.

Fifty-four-year-old Satya Devi is one of these women who battles the hot sun daily to cut their cane.

Ms Devi runs the farm after her husband fell ill while trying to procure labourers from Rabi Island.

"I have been running our farm for the past 30 years and it is no easy task," she said.

"Sitting pretty at home and carrying out motherly roles in the family is part of my duty too apart from managing our 48 acres farm.

"But most of it is spent on the cane fields now since my three children have grown up and have their own families apart from my son who we live with.

"This year I will be harvesting 480 tonnes of cane from my farm."

Ms Devi said the problems they faced included labourer and cane transportation problems.

Another farmer Sumintra Wati, who runs her 95 acres family farm with her two brothers, said Seaqaqa farmers needed water and electricity in its three sectors.

Ms Wati said young people continued to leave farms because the farm areas lacked infrastructure.

"Yet farmers are the ones that contribute a lot to this country's economy," she said.

"As canefarmers we are also mothers and imagine stumbling around in the dark after a hard day's work because we do not have electricity.

"Even our labourers suffer too because we do not have easily accessible water supply and maybe this is one of the reasons that they do not want to work as labourers any more."

Ms Wati is expecting to harvest 600 tonnes of cane from her farm this year.

She has five grandchildren whom she teaches to work hard in order to be successful in life.

Difficulties faced by women farmers in Dagau:

* cost of cane cartage to the mill — $19 per tonne;

* high labour costs — close to $5000 every season; and

* lack of infrastructure — electricity and water

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