RARAI project and sugar stakeholders inspect the road at the Drasa works site
Up to 50 sugar cane access roads with a total length of 42 kilometres in the Drasa sugar cane sector, on the outskirts of Lautoka, Fiji are being upgraded compliments of a FJD$4.25 million partnership between the Pacific Community (SPC) and Fair Deal Earthmoving Contractors (FDEC) Limited and funded by the European Union (EU).
This was announced at the Rural Access Roads and Associated Infrastructure (RARAI) project dialogue seminar involving SPC as the implementing agency and key sugar cane industry stakeholders in Lautoka today.
''This project tackles a key challenge for farmers, in particular in more remote areas of Fiji by easing the transportation of sugar to the mills. The project has also an important social component, as it will provide employment for vulnerable groups of the population. It is therefore, an important element in the EU's ongoing support to the sugar sector in Fiji,'' said Delegation of the European Union for the Pacific Acting Head of Cooperation, Mr. Jesús Laviña.
The upgrading works will ensure that around 315 sugar cane farmers will benefit from improved road access leading to a reduction in transportation costs between their farms and the main Queens Highway.
“FDEC will be undertaking road rehabilitation works under Phase I in Drasa. Road works have begun and is expected to be completed before the 2017 crushing season begins. Road transportation is a very expansive exercise in terms of time and money during the harvesting season, hence this project attempts to mitigate this,” SPC Chief Adviser, Patricia Sachs-Cornish said.
The RARAI project is a EURO 13 million project funded under the 2013 Accompanying Measures for Sugar Protocol (AMSP) Programme, ‘Support to Sugarcane Industry Programme’.
The project’s specific objective is to reduce social, economic and environmental vulnerability of farmers and mill workers impacted by sugar reforms by improving the condition of cane access roads and associated infrastructure.
“Although the EU funded RARAI project will provide some transport relief for farmers during harvesting season, it is important that other stakeholders are actively involved to have meaningful long term benefits to the farmers and for the broader sugar industry,” said Ms Sachs-Cornish.
“The project is working closely with the Fiji Sugar Corporation (FSC), Ministry of Sugar Industry (MoSI) and other primary stakeholders in trying to address the transportation challenges for farmers. They are critical because they play leading roles in improving and sustaining good quality cane access roads and drainage systems across the sugar cane sectors,” she added.
Phase II will see the upgrading of around 38 kilometres of cane access roads and selected drainage in the same sector, beginning this April as well.
Albert Cerelala, RARAI Team Leader, [email protected] or +679 337 0733
SPC is the principal scientific and technical organisation in the Pacific region, supporting sustainable development since 1947. It is an intergovernmental development organisation owned and governed by its 26 countries and territory members.