Cyclone Winston flattens farms, leaves farmers devastated

Fijian farmers have been devastated by the impact of Cyclone Winston, with some saying they can’t rebuild without the assistance of international aid.

Fiji’s Ministry of Agriculture has toured affected regions, assessing damage and distributing seed and fodder to affected farmers.

Acting secretary for agriculture Uraia Waibuta said preliminary assessments of the damage bill sat at $120.2 million, a figure that included crop and livestock but not sugar.

Mr Waibuta said the Government had mobilised staff throughout affected areas to distribute emergency seed and fodder, but a final figure for the damage wouldn’t be available until Monday.

In addition to their crops being wiped out, farmers were also dealing with the loss of shelter, and Mr Waibuta said the emotional toll on families was visit.

“For some of the farmers, it has taken 10 or more years to establish their farms,” he said.

“But within three hours it was totally destroyed, so we need to be very understanding of the mental situation farmers are in right now.

“So we’re not only pushing for new seeds to be planted, but also for communities to come together in this difficult situation they are facing.”

On the north eastern coast of the island a Raki Raki cane farmer told the ABC he was having serious doubts about the ability to rebuild.

“Most of the sugar farmers are not in a position to rebuild our lives,” he said.

“If the international community can assist us and cooperate with the Fiji Government to help rebuild our houses, then we can get a roof over our children’s heads.”

Source: ABC Net. Date: 4 March 2016