World Wildlife Fund Pacific Works With Fiji Sugar Corp To Improve Farming Practices

Barriers between farms, rivers needed to ensure sustainability 

By Luisa Qiolevu

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, March 30, 2017) – The World Wildlife Fund Pacific is working in partnership with Fiji Sugar Corporation and canefarmers' associations to improve on farming practices.

This was revealed by WWF Pacific Great Sea Reef Program policy officer Alfred Ralifo during the environmental non-government roundtable meeting held at Novotel Suva/Lami Bay Hotel on Tuesday.

Mr Ralifo said they would work closely with sugarcane farmers to ensure that they kept a barrier between their farms and rivers.

"WWF has a sustainable sugar program where we work in partnership with the Fiji Sugar Corporation as well as the Fiji sugar canefarmers associations and this is looking at current practices of sugar farming and how it impacts rivers and the soil, ending up in the ocean," he said.

Mr Ralifo said these activities could affect the coral reefs and the marine ecosystem.

"So our work is to look at sustainable land use practices and sustainable farming practices where we actually try to change farming behaviour," he said.

"We will also try and reduce the use of fertiliser, chemical pesticides, intercropping and also ensuring that farmers keep a barrier between their farms and the river."

Mr Ralifo said replanting the barrier zone helped reduce erosion or sediments to the river and stream which later ends up in the sea.

"So that's the kind of activities that we work with the sugarcane farmers together with the Ministry of Agriculture, land use and planning," he said.

"These are some of the activities that are currently ongoing and we are hoping that whatever lessons come out from these activities would be put into a tool kit which can be widely circulated because the sugar industry has most of its farming areas where sugar cane is planted has been used for many years."

Mr Ralifo said the fertility of the soil reduced drastically and as a result sugarcane farmers had to continuously use fertilisers to improve production.

"This has resulted in fertilisers reaching the streams and end up in to the ocean," he said.

"The chain reaction of environmental problems continues and so for us when we work on oceans and trying to ensure that we have helped the ocean, we also have to look at land use practices and activities that take place on land and one of the major threats to our project site is the intensive sugarcane farming that has been taking place for many years now."

Fiji Times Online.
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