Staff of the SPC-EU Reforest Project distributed over 7,000 trees to sugarcane farmers in Rarawai, Ba on 20 March, 2018.
Sugarcane farmers in communities on the Western side of Fiji’s main island of Viti Levu received over 21,000 trees from a reforestation project funded by the European Union (EU) and implemented by the Pacific Community (SPC) in March, 2018.
The exercise, which was conducted by the SPC-EU Reforest Fiji project, distributed Sandalwood, Vesi, Citrus and Mahogany trees to Leader Farmers, who will then pass them on to Link Farmers in sugarcane farming communities in the Saweni/Natova, Mota/Naloto, Rarawai, Tavua and Rakiraki farming areas.
The largest distribution of trees occurred on 20 March, 2018 at Rarawai in Ba where farmers received 7,460 trees. The exercise coincided with the International Day of Forests #IntlForestDay which is observed on 21 March each year.
“The European Union is pleased to be funding the Reforest Fiji project. Reforest Fiji has been working with the Fiji Sugar Corporation (FSC) and the EU-funded Fairtrade project to support Leader Farmers and Link Farmers through the distribution of high-value trees to sugarcane farms on Viti Levu’s sugarcane belt. Once these trees are established, they will protect soil, reduce erosion, provide for species habitat, support the increasing use of renewable energy and reduce the use of fossil fuels and fight climate change. They will also assist farmers to supplement future on-farm incomes,” said Christoph Wagner, Head of Co-operation at the Delegation of the European Union for the Pacific.
SPC Director General, Dr Colin Tukuitonga highlighted the importance of forests for building sustainable communities saying, “Investing in healthy forests brings wide ranging benefits to our communities. Forests support clean water and clean air, they become a source of local nutrition, medicine and, when used responsibly, provide a reliable income. The Reforest Fiji Project is a great example of creating a resilient Pacific and we are very proud to be a part of this effort.”
“One of the reasons for having the reforestation project is to stabilise and protect the degraded sloping areas and the stream banks of the project sites. This is with the intention of protecting and enhancing water catchments to help reduce the severity of floods and sedimentation which would in turn, prevent or reduce damage to infrastructures below, including roads and crossings. The tree distribution exercise is helping the project achieve this by ensuring that a lot more trees of different species are being planted and looked after on the ground by people other than our grantees,” explained Reforest Project Manager Sairusi Bulai.
The Reforest Fiji project’s tree distribution exercise took place from 6 to 28 March, 2018.
REFOREST Fiji 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.
Debbie Singh, SPC Sugar Projects Communications Specialist │ Email: [email protected]