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20 years to recover

Kalesi Mele
Saturday, November 25, 2017

IT takes 20 years for repeatedly burnt land mass to recover, says Western Division principal agriculture officer Ilikimi Kaiyanuyanu.

Mr Kaiyanuyanu was speaking at the National Forest Fire Management workshop facilitated by the Pacific Community (SPC) that concluded on Thursday at the Shangri-La's Fijian Resort and Spa near Sigatoka.

In his presentation, Mr Kaiyanuyanu said burning of farm lands was regarded an agricultural tool, but the practice had become a cause for concern for the Agriculture Ministry.

He said slash and burn agriculture was a common practice among subsistence farmers across the country.

Through the practice, farmers cut down or burned plants to create a swidden or cleared land for cultivation. The ministry records showed Fiji had about 65,000 registered farmers and the agriculture sector was driven by a core group of subsistence farmers.

"For the slash and burn practice, the fire is not often controlled and sometimes it can spread to a vast area of land," said Mr Kaiyanuyanu.

"Repeated fires cause soil erosion, nutrient loss and biodiversity loss.

"Perhaps one of the ways forest fires can be lessened is through fostering farmer and community ownership of the land or helping them become stewards of the environment."

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