Salt water intrusion causes loss to cane farmers
BY Elenoa Turaga For years, rice and cane farmers in Korovatu have lost thousands of dollars in income as well as good arable land to flooding and sea water intrusion. Cane farmer Rishi Chand says about a decade ago, he used to produce 520 tonnes of cane annually but now, he is only producing around 420 tonnes of cane due to salt water intrusion. He says other farmers who have been producing around 300 tonnes of cane now only produce less than 100 tonnes. “Some farms have been left idle, two or three farms – because of seawater. Seawater seeping inside and whatever they have planted has been dried up”. The farmers have also been subjected to heavy flooding, landslide and blockage of drains during heavy downpour. Chand says rainwater would be stagnant in their farms for long periods of time affecting their crops. Minister for Agriculture Dr Mahendra Reddy told FBC News they currently do not have a percentage of how much agricultural land has been lost to sea level rise but they are implementing short terms solutions to mitigate the current risks. For the longer term, Dr Reddy says farmers should consider farming on higher ground. “The longer term strategy would also to use the vacant land at a higher altitude. For example, Nadarivatu is opening up for agriculture and we never had that level of agriculture. And then we also have to be mindful of forest cover”. A large portion of the idle farm land in Korovatu has been identified for aquaculture farming by the Ministry of Fisheries.