$1.7m in losses

THE prolonged spell of dry weather in the Western Division has proved costly for farmers with preliminary figures by the Agriculture Ministry pegging the losses at about $1.7million since mid-July.

“The worst hit areas have been in the Ba province, where farmers have lost about 60 per cent of supply in quantity and quality,” said principal agricultural officer Western Vinesh Kumar.

Agricultural production has been significantly affected by the dry spell that has blanketed the West for the past few months, with farming hot spots such as Barotu and Yaqara, and Maro and upper parts of the Sigatoka Valley Rd among the worst hit in Ra and Nadroga, respectively.

“The major sector affected is livestock, especially considering the value and input lost when they die.

“The loss of pasture by indiscriminate burning has really contributed to this.

“Farmers who live away from rivers and water sources but rely on irrigation systems are also among the worst hit.”

The ministry has mobilised water pumps to parts of Ra, Ba and Nadroga for irrigation farms to help minimise the effects of the drought, which the Department of Meteorology expects to drag through to the wet season next year.

“These financial losses are in the quality and quantity of crops and products and the fact that some farmers are not relying or extending to other types of produce.”

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