A study of non-commercial dairy farming systems in the Western Division of Fiji : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master in Agricultural Science in Farm Management at Massey University, New Zealand
The purpose of this study was to describe the smallholder dairy system(s) in the Western Division of Viti Levu. the largest island of Fiji. The role and contribution of non-commercial dairy cows to the income, nutrition and cultural well-being of Indian families in these systems was assessed. In common with such dairy systems elsewhere in the developing world there is a dearth of available information on the non-commercial dairy sector of Fiji. A Farming Systems Research (FSR) approach provided the framework for the field survey which was carried out in the Western Division of Fiji over an eight week period from February to March 1991. Nineteen farmers selected at random were interviewed for this study. These farmers together owned a total of 36 non- commercial dairy cows. Information was obtained from these farmers on their farming resources and operations and in particular, on the roles, production and reproductive performance of their cows. Using data from these farms and other limited secondary data which was available, a whole farm budget for a typical farm in the survey area was prepared, identifying the revenue and costs of commercial and subsistence crop enterprises and the two-cow system. For the 'typical' farm, the total net revenue from the combined crop enterprises (commercial and subsistence) was F$5433/year. with sugar cane providing the main source of income from the farm. The imputed net value of production from the two-cow system was estimated to be about 38% of the net crop revenue. Per capita consumption for Indian farm families of fat and protein from liquid milk were estimated to be 11,6kg and 10.5kg per year, respectively. Survey results show that liquid milk is a significant source of protein to these families. Farmers reported that if a cow was not owned a reduction in the nutritional welfare, health and income of the family would most likely occur. Longitudinal field studies in these smallholder farming systems are recommended to allow the essential dynamics of the livestock enterprises and the relationships between these enterprises, the cropping systems and the farmers' families to be established.. It is concluded from the field studies that non-commercial dairy cows make a significant contribution to the nutrition and economic and cultural well being of the families which keep them. and that these cows are maintained and produce using resources of low opportunity cost to the farm family. Key words: smallholder dairy systems. Farming Systems Research. Fiji agriculture, tropical dairy production.