Dry spell down spares no farmers in Ba’s agricultural communities

Farmer Arun Sharma with his labourers shows how the dry weather condition has affected his farm at Nukuloa in Ba. Picture: REINAL CHAND

THE persistent dry spell in the Western Division has not spared farmers in one of Ba’s biggest agriculture communities.

Lush greenery at Moto and Naloto has, in past months, dried up with farmers scrambling to gather even the barest of sustenance for livestock.

The communities are being supplied piped water through the Balevuto catchment, a water source declared to be at “critical status” by the Water Authority of Fiji.

Anxious residents know there is a possibility of water running out if no continuous heavy rainfall is recorded in weeks to come.

Prominent sugarcane grower Arun Sharma said while a majority of the farmers had water tanks, they had to cater for labourers working on their farms.

“We are in the middle of crushing season and I myself have about nine labourers from Naitasiri working here and I need to provide them with water,” he said.

He said the dry weather spell had caused cane tonnage to drop by at least 35 per cent. He says this has been mainly caused by dried up sugar cane.

“Creeks have dried up. There are no other water sources for us. “This problem has persisted for many years, but nothing has been done,” Mr Sharma said.

“Also, it is very difficult to get boreholes here so we need another supplementary water source in times like this. “Farmers cannot do cash cropping anymore.

“I know the production of sugar cane is expected to go up but we can’t control the weather and there should be measures to counter this.” As many as 800 growers in Moto and Naloto sectors have been affected by the dry weather.