Fiji Time: 1:24 PM on Wednesday 24 January

Fiji Times Logo

/ Front page / Features

Akisi's passion for cane farming

Serafina Silaitoga
Monday, June 19, 2017

AKISI Vinaka is a popular name in the cane belt areas of Wainikoro and Lagalaga in Macuata.

She is 59 years of age but is swift and frisky when it comes to harvesting cane. This certainly speaks of her determination to make a difference in the iTaukei farming community.

Mrs Vinaka has been a canefarmer for the past 17 years and is a sardar (administrator) for seven cane farming gangs in the area, a Justice of the Peace official and is the head of yavusa Kedekede in her village of Wainidrua.

She certainly had a lot to share when we met at her cane field and her name "Vinaka" meaning "good" or "all is well" was reflected in her demeanor.

Our search for her was not a difficult one because every farmer, who we enquired to regarding her whereabouts, told us of her exact location, which was in her cane farm.

"I love farming. It's my hobby and I have six children who are all in Viti Levu and they have told me to leave farming and join them, but this is where my heart is," Mrs Vinaka said.

"I have a lease of about 13 acres, I pay lease of $970 and I am leasing this land from my own yavusa. It's the best way to do it because cane farming is a business and we should treat it professionally."

During the interview, she kept dabbing her T-shirt and laughed as she noticed our silent observation.

"My T-shirt is damp because I swam across the river to come to my farm and cut cane," Mrs Vinaka explained.

"It was wet early this morning when I arrived but thank God for the sun as it is drying my T-shirt."

Swimming across the river has become part of her sardar duty even at night when farmers need to clarify the tickets or quotas with FSC officials.

"I swim at night because it is the shortest and fastest way to get to my gang members who need my help. That's actually my job, you know, to serve my members," Mrs Vinaka said.

"Then I have my traditional role so it's not easy, but I guess I manage well because I live alone and it's easier to work alone."

Like other farmers concerned about the high cost of cane farming, Mrs Vinaka feels costs on some products should be dropped.

"The lease cost should decrease because farmers are trying to make ends meet in this industry and it's not easy," she said.

"Our transport cost is high like $25 per tonne if we have to hire a lorry to take our cane to the mill.

"If we load the cane on a tractor from our farms to the main line, it will cost us $5 to $9 per tonne so it's not easy. (The main line is a spot where farmers need to off load their cane loaded on rails which will get picked up by FSC locomotive operators)."

Compared with 15 years ago, cane farming operations, she said was affordable.

"We could hire labourers and pay them about $4 to $5 a tonne and that was cheap because other costs were affordable," Mrs Vinaka said.

"Today, the cost of living has increased and we the canefarmers can feel a big difference.

"When we get our cane payment, very little or nothing is left after all our deductions are made so reducing the costs of transport, lease and fertiliser will help us very much."








Fiji Times Front Page Thumbnail

Kaila Front Page ThumbnailFiji Times & Kaila Frontpage PDF Downloads

Use the free Acrobat Reader to view.

Westpac
Code Inward TTs Outward TTs
CAD 0.62540.6064
JPY 56.077453.0774
GBP 0.35820.3502
EUR 0.40930.3973
NZD 0.69010.6571
AUD 0.63210.6071
USD 0.50480.4878

from

$0.00

Exchange Rate updated on 24th, January, 2018

Today's Most Read Stories

  1. No road, no vote
  2. PM accuses newspaper of irresponsible reporting
  3. Mother laments son's death
  4. 7s newcomers keen to impress
  5. 'Blessing in disguise'
  6. Waran reaps rewards
  7. April deadline for runway, says AFL
  8. Woman charged for bribing a public official
  9. Crossings closed, hundreds affected
  10. TLTB owed $18.3m

Top Stories this Week

  1. Trip turns tragic Thursday (18 Jan)
  2. Mela beats the odds Thursday (18 Jan)
  3. The Iron Lady Monday (22 Jan)
  4. Tube ride to school Thursday (18 Jan)
  5. Patient info leaked Friday (19 Jan)
  6. ATS Impasse: Tribunal orders return of all workers in 48 hours Saturday (20 Jan)
  7. Mother, 100, seeks assistance for daughter, 50 Monday (22 Jan)
  8. Rasta's 'star' loves Fijian hospitality Saturday (20 Jan)
  9. Do the right thing and resign: Biman Sunday (21 Jan)
  10. Couple ready to work Monday (22 Jan)