Watermelon sweet for sugarcane grower

SUGARCANE farmers should seriously look into inter-cropping as a means of earning additional income to offset the cost of cane production, says Sugar Research Institute of Fiji’s acting chief executive officer Prem Naidu.

Mr Naidu made the comment in reference to the results of an inter-cropping pilot project at sugarcane grower Vinod Kumar’s farm in Vatia, Ba.

“Vinod planted watermelon as the inter-crop along with sugarcane,” he said.

“With many growers leaving sugarcane farming based on the reason that it is no longer profitable, these types of demo plots are to show the growers that they can get good returns from sugarcane farming,” Mr Naidu said.

“Vinod harvested five tonnes of watermelon from just one acre and from the sale of the inter-crop he will recover his sugarcane planting cost and make profit even before sending his cane to the mill.

“The expected returns from this watermelon crop is $5000 based on a wholesale price of $1 per kg.”

Mr Naidu said the Vatia intercropping project was part of a technology transfer program funded by the EU.

Mr Kumar said the returns from watermelon was an incentive to plant even more this year on his 10 acre farm.

“It took me 70 days to get a return from watermelon, so I am definitely going to plant more this year,” he said.

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