Road Works To End Transport Issue For Farmers

For decades, some 15 sugarcane farmers of Yalava have been pleading with authorities to come to their aid. Khadim Hussain (left) with his son Talib Hussain at Yalava outside Labasa Town on September 14, 2020. The Fiji Roads Authority (FRA) will carry out maintenance works on an access road for sugarcane farmers just outside Labasa.

It comes after persistent follow-ups and the farmers' plea were finally heard yesterday following a positive meeting with the authority and advisory councillors. For decades, some 15 sugarcane farmers of Yalava have been pleading with authorities to come to their aid. The area's hilly terrain can become a big challenge when transporting their produce to the Labasa Sugar Mill.

On Monday, on a sunny day, the farmers and labourers collectively tried removing a fully loaded tractor tray out of drain. This is a recurring scene for the farmers who say they have to endure it almost on a daily during the harvesting season. And when it rains, farmer Khadim Hussain, said the task became twice the load.

The 71-year-old said: "We have to hire a crane for about £300 to £400 to help us get our tractor off the road and over the hill. "We are not earning much from harvesting cane and even whatever we earn it goes into unnecessary expenses." Mr Hussain is farming on 26 acres of land.

Others in the settlement have similar sized plots, he added. "We have written many letters to relevant authorities and ministers to look into our issue," he said. Mr Hussain said the authority's action now gave them hope to carry on their legacy in the years to come.

Tabia and Yalava advisory councilior Brijesh Chand said he had contacted the Provincial Administrator of Macuata and Fiji Roads Authority (FRA) and informed them about the issue. "Those two hills needs to cut be off so that farmers can deliver cane without problems," he said. Edited by Ranoba Baoa

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