Sunday, January 21, 2007
Growing pine on babasiga land
In babasiga (sunburnt land) which is a nickname for Macuata because it is fairly dry mainly grassland, there is a great potential in growing pine trees. One variety trialed in Fiji hs been Pinus caribaca hondurensis or Carribean pine which comes from the Carribean Basin such as Guatemala, Belize, Cuba and Bahamas. It seems to be an excellent tree for plantations in Fiji and has already been planted in Nabou, Nadi, Lololo, Ra, Bua and Macuata.
Because our family land is suitable, one of our boys decided to plant 700 pines last year and added another 1200 last month. He obtained the seedlings from a government station in Seaqaqa. 'They are very expensive,' Junion said to me. 'Oh, how much each?' I asked. His reply was astonishing. 'One cent!' What? I thought they would be one dollar each. It cost more for the transport to pick them up - two trips - than the planting material. Despite the very hot days, Junior got a working bee together with his cousins and they set to work to cover a hillside with the little pines.
The land is talasiga - which is a similar word to babasiga and vast areas of Vanua Levu and Viti Levu are of this type of hilly grass land with a relatively lower rainfall that the rest of Fiji.
It is a long term project as the pines will be ready for cutting in about ten years time.
Many people in the rural areas just get on with the job of surviving, and planting with the seasons of the year. A military dictatorship, or whatever it calls itself, does not seem particularly relevant to their lives.