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$2.6m For Agricultural Aid

31 March 2010

FIJI - The Ministry of Agriculture has allocated $2.6 million for the rehabilitation of crops and livestock affected by Tropical Cyclone Tomas.

Principal Agriculture Officer Mr Uraia Waibuta said the rehabilitation work will start around mid April 2010.

“The $2.6 million will be used for planting materials, agro inputs, land development, desilting of drains in Cakaudrove and inland of Macuata, veterinary drugs, pasture seeds, supplementary feeds and fencing materials for cyclone affected farmers,” Mr Waibuta said.

Mr Waibuta said the rehabilitation work will first focus on food security for the farmers then on economic recovery.

“However, an immediate rehab for food security and economic recovery will be done for Taveuni since the devastating effect of Tropical Cyclone Tomas has caused a lot of damage to the dalo and yaqona industry,” he added.

“Total cost of damage by Tropical Cyclone Tomas to the Agriculture sector is $49,071,170.11 million,” Mr Waibuta said.

“In the northern and eastern divisions the total cost of damage done to crops sector is $48,955,695.11 while there was $115,480 worth of damage to the livestock sector,” he said.

The major areas affected by Tropical Cyclone Tomas were the northern and eastern dvisions, which included the islands of Taveuni, Rabi, Kioa, Qamea, Laucala, north eastern parts of Vanua Levu, Cikobia and the Lau group.

Mr Waibuta said the total damage sustained in the Cakaudrove Province was estimated to be around $41,561,032.46 million ,of which 69 per cent or $28 million was on Taveuni alone where dalo, yaqona, copra, cassava, breadfruit, cocoa and fruits and vegetables were damaged.

“Farmers in Taveuni were producing 500 to 600 tonnes of dalo per month and the impact of the cyclone to the Tausala export market will be enormous,” he said.

“After the cyclone it is anticipated that dalo production in Taveuni will drop to 150 to 200 tonnes per month before it may begin to stabilise after three months with the drop in production worth of $2.4 million,” he said.

“Apart from the devastating strong winds velocity, which twisted and uprooted crops, further damages were done through salt water sprays to crops and vegetation along the coastlines,” he said.

“High rising sea levels or tide drastically affected crops, infrastructure and shore lines through the deposition of debris, stones and sand from the seas which were washed inland onto villages and farms,” Mr Waibuta said.

“The extent of damage brought by Cyclone Tomas on food security has left all the major areas identified as the areas worst hit, without the basic food source of root crops for the next three months,” Mr Waibuta said.

The existing crops on the ground will be able to supplement and support the communities for the next three weeks. Mr Waibuta said root crops such as dalo and cassava, which are less than three months old can recover, therefore it is expected that they can reach maturity in the next three to four months while older root crops are assessed as 90 to 100 per cent damaged and cannot recover.

“The strong winds by Cyclone Tomas caused 100 percent damage to breadfruit, which was a reliable source of carbohydrate for the people and it will take another year to recover,” Mr Waibuta said.

“The livestock damage was not significant, but in estates and other livestock enterprises in Cakaudrove suffered some damages,” he said.

A total of 49 staff were mobilised in the province of Cakaudrove, Macuata, Lau and the Lomaiviti group with six vehicles to assist the survey team.

“During the process of crop damage survey the agriculture staff were engaged in some immediate rehabilitation work in distributing seeds and kumala cuttings to the substantive damaged areas."

“Total of 346,000 kumala cuttings, assorted vegetable seeds and about three tonnes of rice seeds were distributed to the affected farmers in the northern division,” he said.

TheCattleSite News Desk



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