Growers back in business

Brendan Davies (fifth from left) with growers and industry stakeholders at one of the FarmWorld farms in Buabua, Lautoka. Picture FELIX CHAUDHARY

ITAUKEI canegrowers in Koronubu, Ba, who have been nil producers for many years say their prayers have been answered thanks to Australian agriculture expert Brendan Davies.

Mr Davies has established FarmWorld-Fiji, a company that has given iTaukei landowners who used to farm cane and abandoned it a number of years ago, a new lease of life.

Maika Ranitu said he had left cane farming because of exorbitant production costs and labour shortage issues.

“My dad used to farm cane on 10 acres of land and when it was passed on to me in 2014, I lost hope because it was too hard and too expensive,” Mr Ranitu said.

“Thanks to Brendan and FarmWorld-Fiji, I don’t have to worry about machine hire costs and planting because they provide everything.

“Now, land that used to lie idle is being used to produce high quality cane and the yield is also very high, my farm will produce 85 to 90 tonnes per hectare.

“This is very good because a lot of farms are producing between 40 to 60 tonnes per hectare.”

Similar sentiments were shared by neighbouring farmers Aisake Sivo Ratu and Apolosi Digo.

“We would never have returned to cane farming, so this concept really works for us,” said Mr Digo.

Mr Davies said consolidating neighbouring farms and working them as a cooperative reduced production and logistics costs.

“This means huge cost savings to farmers and more money in their pockets,” he said.