Farmer wants water crisis to be solved

Naresh Ram speaks to The Fiji Times about the struggles faced by farmers in Muaniweni, Naitasiri on Monday, November 28, 2022. Picture: ARIETA VAKASUKAWAQA

ACCESS to water could become an election issue with residents in many communities raising intermittent to no supply as being a major concern over the past few years.

Case in point, some families from a farming community in Muaniweni, Naitasiri, claimed they were forced to bathe, wash their clothes and even cook with water from the Rewa River because there was no piped water supply for the past two to three months. A team from this newspaper was in the area this week when farmers raised the issue.

Vegetable farmer, Naresh Ram, said he was looking forward to vote in the 2022 General Election and hoped that whoever formed government would address the water crisis in the area.

The father of three lives on the farm with his family which consists of seven people. He plants root crops such as cassava, dalo, kumala and vegetables on his nine-acre farm.

“For two to three months there was no water in the area, we had no choice but to fetch water from the Rewa River, across their home,” the 46-year-old man said.

“We bathed, cooked and washed our clothes with water we fetched from the river. The water that was stored in our tank was used for drinking.

“Livestock farms are located by the river banks, so one can imagine just how contaminated the river water is.

“Water is a basic human need and as human beings we need it to survive, apart from drinking and cooking, water is important for our hygiene.”

He said their water problems worsened during the dry season when the dam supplying the area dried up.

The farming community consists of more than 300 farmers who are mostly Fijians of Indian descent.

  •  Questions sent to Agriculture Minister Dr Mahendra Reddy remains unanswered when this edition went to press.
  • Water Authority of Fiji media liaison officer Peni Shute said they would look into the issue.

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