A farm to withstand a cyclone: rebuilding after Fiji's worst storm

Source(s)
Guardian, the (UK)

By Nilesh Pawar in Taveuni

When Tropical Cyclone Winston struck Abhishek Sapra’s farm exactly four years ago, the damage was monumental. Sapra suffered losses of over $F500,000 (US$227,000).

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“In areas with tree cover, the kava was saved since the trees created natural windbreaks, branches that fell formed a protective blanket. But where there were no trees the crops were completely uprooted,” he said.

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Dr Sanjay Anand, a professor of soil science at the University of the South Pacific, says this practice of land-clearing has led to a loss of biodiversity and increase in soil erosion, and is on the rise across Fiji.

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As he tried to rebuild and replant his farm in the wake of the cyclone, Sapra planted a variety of crops – intercropping kava with coffee, turmeric, ginger – in ways that mimicked the structure of nearby forests, underneath large trees to provide shelter. He has eschewed chemical fertilisers in favour of mulch and organic-based fertilisers such as those made from seaweed.

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