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Smallholder sugarcane growers, indigenous technical knowledge, and the sugar industry crisis in Fiji

This is a cross-disciplinary study that draws upon the agronomic, ecological, and social sciences to analyse the current crisis facing the sugar industry in Fiji. Its particular focus is the livelihood crisis facing the smallholder sugarcane growers, and it explores the potential of their local and traditional farming knowledge as a source of solutions for both crises. It argues, however, that present proposals for reforming the sugar industry in Fiji are wedded to the industrial agricultural paradigm and a globalized corporate food regime that is the source of the problems it currently faces and which threatens the future of the smallholder sugarcane farming system along with its local traditional knowledge. The thesis draws inspiration from Agroecology as an agricultural paradigm alternative to the conventional industrial paradigm to advocate for greater attention to be given to smallholder sugarcane growers and their local and traditional farming knowledge in seeking solutions to the crisis of the sugar industry in Fiji. To explore these complex issues, the thesis adopts a cross-disciplinary, mixed-method approach. Participant observation, focus group discussions, and informal interviews with smallholder sugarcane farmers were used to elicit their views, feeling, thoughts and opinions on the Fiji sugar industry, their relationships with other sugar industry actors, and their own indigenous technical knowledge. Livelihood survey methods and agroecosystem analysis were used to gather quantitative data on household and farm status. This information was analysed using IBM® Social Science software: Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) and Microsoft® Office Excel Spreadsheet, to provide an up-to-date profile of livelihood and farming situation of smallholder sugarcane growers. Semi-structured interviews with industry stakeholders were used to identify the agricultural problems and socio-economic issues facing the industry and their differing views on the solutions proposed to solve them. Archival material was used to obtain information on past efforts of the sugar industry to develop solutions to problems at the local, national and international levels, and existing academic literature was reviewed for additional information on the contemporary situation of the smallholder sugarcane growers and the Fiji sugar industry as a whole.
Type of thesis
Dean, M. R. U. (2019). Smallholder sugarcane growers, indigenous technical knowledge, and the sugar industry crisis in Fiji (Thesis, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)). The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/12782
The University of Waikato
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