Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Cane cutting has started in Fiji

The cousins and nephews and nieces inform us that they have started cutting the sugarcane at Labasa for this season. Gangs of youths from Mali Island stay at Vatuadova for the season and work as one of the cane-cutting gangs. The lads get about $1 an hour I reckon and the family feeds them. Though most of the sugar in Fiji is grown by Indian farmers, there is now a considerable number of Fijian cane farmers and their youths work in cane-cutting gangs during the season.

The four mills in Fiji are Lautoka, Rarawai at Ba, Penang at Rakiraki and Labasa. There are sometimes glitches when there is a mechanical breakdown or a strike by truck-drivers etc.

The Labasa Mill commenced operations in 1895, but earlier there were mills in odd places for growing sugar such as Nausori, Suva and Navua - on the wetter side of Viti Levu. The very early Suva attempt was rather a failure and the cane was planted from the Nabukulou Creek down to where Government House stands!

One of the pics here is of flowering sugar-cane, and that season gives me the sneezes!

1 comment:

Pandabonium said...

Hawaii used to have narrow gauge trains for hauling cane, but now they use big - really big - trucks. A couple of the old steam driven trains operate on Oahu and Maui as tourist attractions.

In Hawaii, the cane is burned in the field (the variety of cane is selected for that) and just the stalks are left which are picked up by cranes to get sent to the mill. People down wind of the fields have been fighting that for decades because of the smoke and soot (black "Maui snow").