Up to 49 kilometres of cane access roads in the Koronubu sugarcane sector in Ba will soon be upgraded thanks to a FJD$4.53 million partnership between the European Union (EU) and the Pacific Community (SPC) Rural Access Roads and Associated Infrastructure (RARAI) project.
The RARAI project is working with selected civil works contractors to upgrade the 42 cane access roads in Koronubu, which, once completed, are expected to benefit around 360 cane farmers and their families by reducing the time taken to transport cane between their farms and the Rarawai mill in Ba.
“This project tackles a key challenge for farmers, especially in the more remote areas of Fiji, by easing the transportation of sugar to the mills. This is an important element in EU’s ongoing support to the sugar sector in Fiji. The project intends to deliver all-weather cane access roads through rehabilitation works, notably improvement of drainage systems. With better roads, there will be also added incentives for farmers to increase production of cash crops to supplement incomes and sustain their livelihoods during off-season. In addition, it will mean people will enjoy improved accessibility to basic facilities in terms of health, education, markets, public administration, to name a few, ” said Christoph Wagner, Head of Cooperation at the EU Delegation for the Pacific.
“SPC is proud to partner with the EU in this undertaking,” SPC Director General, Dr Colin Tukuitonga said. “Cane cartage is a very significant cost for sugarcane farmers and the SPC is pleased support upgrading efforts to improve road conditions and encourage the industry to reduce transportation costs for farmers.“
Although the RARAI project will provide some transport relief for farmers during the harvesting season, it is important that other stakeholders are actively involved to have meaningful long-term benefits to farmers and for the broader sugar industry.
The project is working closely with the Fiji Sugar Corporation, Ministry of Sugar Industry and the Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport in trying to address these transportation challenges for farmers. Works are expected to be completed before the 2018 cane crushing season begins. (ENDS)
The RARAI project is a 48-month EURO 13m project that is implemented under the 2013 Accompanying Measures for Sugar Protocol (AMSP) Programme, ‘Support to Sugarcane Industry Programme’. It is being funded by the European Union (EU) and implemented by the Pacific Community (SPC) and runs from January 2015 to January 2019. The project’s specific objective is to ‘reduce social, economic and environmental vulnerability of farmers and mill workers impacted by sugar reforms through improving the condition of cane access roads and associated infrastructure’.
The expected key results of the RARAI project are: (i) improved watershed management in three specific sugarcane sectors through rehabilitation and maintenance of cane access roads, including associated rural infrastructure; (ii) increased community/household income through inclusion in the rehabilitation and maintenance of cane access roads, including associated rural infrastructure; and (iii) establishment of a road maintenance system.
Debbie Singh, SPC Sugar Projects Communications Specialist │ Email: [email protected]t