Cane labourers struggle in heat

Gopal Reddy unloads a cane cart at Randivi Tavua yesterday. Picture: BALJEET SINGH

FOR sugarcane cutters, the harsh dry weather experienced across the Western Division has been a double-edged sword.

They have been forced to harvest under extremely dry and arid conditions and as the cane crushing season draws near to the end, they are faced with the struggle to survive until the 2019 harvest season begins.

Bilolo farmer Ram Bahadur said the dry spell being experienced in Tavua meant it was going to be an uphill battle to find an alternative source of income for his family of cane labourers.

“We have no other choice but to plant vegetables,” he said. “If we don’t keep planting we won’t be able to earn money for our family.”

Yesterday, Mr Ram was joined by his daughter and son-in-law in clearing a plot of land on their employer’s acreage.

In intense heat, the three ploughed and planted vegetable seedlings in the hope of harvesting crops in the coming months.

“When we were harvesting cane the weather was already too hot,” Mr Ram said.

“We had a lot of dry weather and it was a lot of hard work every day while cutting cane. “Now that we finished with the sugar cane, we are starting with our vegetable farm. “We moved to land near a pond because we can use water from the pond to irrigate the vegetables.

“If we didn’t have this water source, I don’t think we would be able to plant anything. “This weather is very hard for vegetable farmers. “They are the worst affected if they don’t have a good water source.”

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