Praying for rain

MORE than 20 cows are reported to have died and sugar cane and other crops have withered as farmers in the Western Division continue to pray for rain to fall.

Some parts of the division had not experienced any rain for about seven months, while others had received very light showers at times but not enough to make any real difference.

Vinod Kumar, the advisory councillor for Vitivanua and Yaqara said the situation was very grim.

The two areas are between Tavua and Rakiraki.

“There is no grass for the cattle and other livestock to feed on so farmers who can afford it are using copra, canefarmers are using sugarcane and some are using mill mix just to keep their animals alive,” said Mr Kumar.

“Rivers and creeks are drying up and we are lucky that the Water Authority of Fiji and Fiji Water are assisting us with supply but the water we receive is only enough for drinking and cooking.

“We don’t have any to spare for our animals.”

Parmeshwar Nand, also of Vitivanua, said he had lost four cows and two calves because of the lack of water and pasture.

“I used to have a herd of about 15 cattle and I will lose more animals if there is no rain soon,” he said.

“Farmers in Vitivanua are losing a lot because cows are dying and our sugarcane crop has gone down by 50 per cent.

“I used to harvest 400 tonnes before but this year only managed 180 tonnes because of the dry weather.”

Kirpa Deo, another farmer in the area, said farmers would not be able to recover if no rain fell soon.

“My cows, goats and sheep are eating mud, that’s how bad it is,” the 52-year-old lamented.

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