Cost of farming increases as dry spell drags on

“I THINK climate change is causing this,” Sigatoka Valley grower Its 4pm daylight saving time on the so-called salad bowl of Fiji and Anand Prasad, assisted by his son is watering his watermelon plants. The large black hose he is holding creates large puddles of water on his plants.

I found him late November watering his farm along the Valley Road, some 10 km inland from the town of Sigatoka on the southern coast of Fiji’s main island, Viti Levu. “I do this every three days,” Anand tells me. “It’s been like this since May, that’s how long we haven’t had rain in this part of the country.”

In actual fact it’s hard to know that Fiji is in the middle of a prolonged drought when you visit the upper hinterlands of Sigatoka. The valley, home to many vegetable farms that supply the many resorts and hotels on Sigatoka’s Coral Coast is a sea of green. It’s helped no doubt by the winding Sigatoka River that runs across the Sigatoka Valley for miles.

But the need to irrigate the farms due to the prolonged drought meant that the cost of farming for growers like Anand had doubled or tripled in the past six months.

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