A set of 29 Global Positioning Systems (GPS) handheld devices have been handed over to the Fiji Sugar Corporation (FSC) under the European Union (EU) funded Fairtrade Associations Capacity Building and Farm Advisory Services Support Project, which is being implemented by the Pacific Community (SPC).

The SPC-EU Fairtrade project is working to support the Fiji sugar industry to improve farm advisory services. The GPS equipment will be used to collect farm information to improve planning and decision making, cane production in order to increase sugar sales in the global market. The GPS devices will allow the use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) as a management tool in sugarcane production by mapping of relevant data.

The GPS data will feed into the Field Information System (FIS), currently being developed under a contract with IT Galax Solutions and is planned to “go live” in October 2018. The FIS is a web application linked to a database with information on cane growers and farms. The FIS allows inputting and retrieving of individual grower and farm related information and thereby improves access to information. Once up and running, the application can be accessed by the FSC field teams and management staff, as well as other sugar industry partners.

The FIS will contain data on growers’ field information (including pre-crush estimates, targets and achievements, drainage, soil and leaf tests and meteorological data) and will provide a GIS interface for GIS data. It will also assist with yield management and harvest planning.

Three training sessions on the use of the GPS handheld devices took place in Lautoka and Labasa from 14-16 May, 2018. The 14 May training targeted IT staff from FSC and the Ministry of Sugar Industry (MoSI). It covered the use of software for processing GPS coordinates taken by the field staff, and mapping of the data.

The 15 and 16 May training sessions targeted FSC and Sugar Cane Growers Council (SCGC) field teams on Viti Levu and Vanua Levu. These were practical and theoretical training sessions on GIS and the use of the GPS devices.

In addition to the GPS devices, six laptops and a projector were also purchased through the support of the Fairtrade project. These were handed over to the SCGC to improve their service delivery to cane farmers. The projector will support training while the laptops will support the work of the district field staff.

Background:
The Fairtrade Farm Advisory Services Project is one of several projects implemented by SPC and financed by the EU in Fiji’s sugarcane belt. These projects are linked to the EU’s Accompanying Measures for Sugar Protocol (AMSP) programme and aim to help strengthen rural sugar-income dependent communities in response to the EU’s Sugar Price Reform and the adverse conditions in the sugar industry. The AMSP programme is designed to improve the livelihoods of sugarcane dependent populations, increase income and reduce poverty.

Media contacts:
Debbie Singh, SPC Sugar Projects Communications Specialist │ Email: [email protected]