Climate Change Causing Significant Impacts On Fiji Sugarcane Farming

Extreme weather events, timing of planting, locations all impacting industry

By Felix Chaudhary

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, July 7, 2017) – Apart from wreaking havoc on sugarcane fields by causing extreme weather events such as severe tropical cyclones, climate change is also affecting how and when sugar cane is planted in the country.

Already, the impact of change in weather patterns can be seen in the timing of cane planting.

Sugar Research Institute of Fiji acting CEO Prem Nandan Naidu said previously there were only two cane planting windows.

In recent years, farmers have been enslaved to weather patterns.

"Traditionally we had two windows, the planting window from March to April and replanting window from September to October," he said.

"Farmers are not following this any longer. They are planting as and when they receive rain.

"And rainfall nowadays is not like it used to be — where it was widespread. Rainfall in recent years has become very localised. Some places receive too much rain while some don't receive any at all."

Mr Naidu added that because of the extended and ad hoc planting season, seed cane availability had become an issue.

"So there are a range of issues attributed to climate change.

"And the challenge for us as researchers, is to keep the industry forging ahead in a sustainable manner by providing the best advice in very challenging situations.

"The onus is on us to find the best and most practical solutions."

He said any plans to develop the industry had to take into account the impact and effect of climate change events on production.

SRIF is encouraging farmers to adopt more environmentally friendly fertiliser applications and husbandry practices.

However, Mr Naidu said climate change was one challenge that was difficult to prepare for because of the unpredictability of the weather.

Fiji Times Online.
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