A reforestation project funded by the European Union (EU) and implemented by the Pacific Community (SPC) has begun distributing over 21,000 trees to farmers in the sugarcane belt on the Western side of Fiji’s main island of Viti Levu.
SPC Director General, Dr. Colin Tukuitonga highlighted the importance of forests for building sustainable communities saying, “Investing in healthy forests brings wide ranging benefits to our communities. Forests support clean water and clean air, they become a source of local nutrition, medicine and, when used responsibly, provide a reliable income. The Reforest Fiji Project is a great example of creating a resilient Pacific and we are very proud to be a part of this effort.”
The trees are being distributed to Leader Farmers, who will then pass them on to Link Farmers. The exercise, which is being conducted by the SPC-EU Reforest Fiji project, is distributing Sandalwood, Vesi, Citrus and Mahogany trees to farmers in the Saweni/Natova, Mota/Naloto, Rarawai, Tavua and Rakiraki farming communities.
The largest distribution of trees is being done today at Rarawai in Ba where farmers will receive 7,460 trees. The exercise coincides with the International Day of Forests (#IntlForestDay) which is observed on March 21 every year.
“The European Union is pleased to be funding the Reforest Fiji project. Reforest Fiji has been working with the Fiji Sugar Corporation (FSC) and the EU-funded Fairtrade project to support Leader Farmers and Link Farmers through the distribution of high-value trees to sugarcane farms on Viti Levu’s sugarcane belt. Once these trees are established, they will protect soil, reduce erosion, provide for species habitat, support the increasing use of renewable energy and reduce the use of fossil fuels and fight climate change. They will also assist farmers to supplement future on-farm incomes,” said Christoph Wagner, Head of Co-operation at the Delegation of the European Union for the Pacific.
The Reforest Fiji project’s tree distribution exercise ran from March 6-28, 2018.
Reforest Fiji is one of several projects implemented by SPC and financed by the EU in Fiji’s sugarcane belt. These projects are linked to the EU’s Accompanying Measures for Sugar Protocol (AMSP) programme and aim to help strengthen rural sugar-income dependent communities in response to the EU’s Sugar Price Reform and the adverse conditions in the sugar industry. The AMSP programme is designed to improve the livelihoods of sugarcane dependent populations, increase income and reduce poverty.
Photos courtesy of Pacific Community.