More than $200m loss in Fiji’s agriculture sector - Solomon Star News

More than $200m loss in Fiji’s agriculture sector

15 March 2016

SUVA, (FIJI TV) --- A total of $208.3 million (US$100 million) is the final damage assessment to the agriculture sector in Fiji.

Cyclone Winston has affected 44,522 farmers and recovery is expected to take years.

This does not include the sugar industry.

The final damage assessment covers crop, live stock and infrastructure damage which will affect 220,000 people.

The Northern division is the worst affected with a damage bill of $93.8 million (US$44.9 million).

Cyclone Winston devastated high value crop areas from the coastline areas of Bua, Cakaudrove and Tavueni.

The Western division comes in second with a cost of $52.8m (US$25.2 million).

Damage to the dalo sector amounts to $17.9 million (US$8.5 million).

90% of these damages are from Taveuni, Bua, Koro, Cakaudrove, Ovalau and Ra.

“For Taveuni, Koro and part of Ra which were the major suppliers of Tausala into the overseas market for that particular variety. But we are fortunate that the central was spared and also the lower part of Naitasiri and Tailevu. This is where we can be sourcing from the other varieties apart from Tailevu,” said Uraia Waibuta, the Acting Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries & Forestry.

The total cost of damage to yaqona stands at $116.1million (US$55.5 million).

“Huge loss to the farmers and also to Fiji as a whole because bulk of this is also consumed locally. So we should definitely see an increase in the price of yaqona to our consumers after all the yaqona has been bought from the buyers that are still existing,” added Waibuta.

Coconut production recorded around $10 million (US$5 million) in damage.

“Especially for our rural copra industry in the rural and maritime islands. So for the next one and a half years we should not be seeing any coconut coming out from these areas. Even some people in the outer islands may have to import coconuts from other areas if they want to use it  for their home consumption purpose,” the permanent secretary said.

For vegetable supply, Waibuta says they are expecting the supply to stabilize within two months.

This is partly due to the fact that the Sigatoka Valley was not severely affected.

The livestock sector has a $9.78 million (US$4.6 million) loss. Major loss was to the dairy, poultry and piggery.

For relief assistance the Ministry has distributed over 500,000 kumala cuttings to the affected farmers.

“We will try and bear with what we have because we also have other suppliers. There will be inconsistency about storage we have to bare with that until things normalise,” he added.

More than 500,000 seedling packets have also been distributed.