Knowing your Land well

Sept. 10, 2018, 6:54 a.m.

Fast becoming one of the Pacific’s leaders and a place to be, Fiji is a land of opportunity for many investors.

Much has been said about the land tenure and the different land types in the country however it is also interesting to know the land itself. This means knowing the type of soil types in Fiji, the areas or towns which are most prone to floods or droughts, which area in Fiji is the leeward side  and what plants are best suited for each area.

The Fijian archipelago  is made up of over 300 islands and of these 110 are occupied or inhabited. The two major islands in the Group are Viti Levu which covers about 7% of the land area in Fiji and the other major island is Vanua Levu which accounts for over 30% of the group’s land mass. The archipelago is made up of mostly volcanic islands which have different characteristics and plants in each area or region.

When buying a property whether it is to build your dream home or to start up a farm, it is always good to know the type of soil that is present as it will assist in setting up your gardens as well as growing the right type of flowers to get the best effect and appearance.


Soil types in Fiji

Aside from being the land of smiles as well as being rated amongst one of the friendliest places on earth, Fiji is also known for the various products that it produces such as the PureFiji, Fiji Water and even its Sugar. This is all attributed to the various soil type and plants growing in its over 300 islands.

The country is divided into three major classes of landforms - plains, low mountains and hills as well as the high mountains.

Lowland  or the low lying areas in Fiji are usually formed on beach sand or are either very oxisol meaning  it contains a high concentration of Iron (III), aluminium oxides and hydroxides. The soil in these areas are usually reddish or yellowish in colour.

If you have located a plot of land to buy always carry out soil tests to ensure that the plants that you nurture or the vegetables you are raining complement your oil type. For instance, vegetables best suited to this type of soil include  leafy greens such as lettuce, chinese cabbage along with tomatoes, squash or pumpkin and radishes. Crops such as sweet potatoes or Kumal in the local vernacular, are best suited for soil rich in iron. Citrus plants as well as grapes and strawberries also thrive in soil which is rich in iron.

Majority of the areas in Fiji are very fertile as the archipelago is made up of volcanic soil. As such, this is one of the reasons that agriculture has become one of the leading industries in Fiji. Volcanic soil is known as andisols as they are formed from volcanic ash which later breaks down and frms some of the most fertile soils on Earth. It also contains minerals which are beneficial to plants.

Some flowering plants which are very good for iron rich soil are rhododendrons. This shrub comes in variety of colours and sizes and i a poster child for iron loving plants. Others plants which can be used for exterior beautification also include camellias as well as gardenias.

Makeup of land in Fiji

In Fiji, there are two different climates on one side of the islands. In fact, for Viti Levu and Vanua Levu, the mountains are located towards the centre of the island and evaporation happens on the west side of the mountains with the moisture being carried  towards the east side of the island. This sees one side being moist whilst the other side is dryer.

In the local vernacular the dry side is known as Babasiga or the hillside exposed to the sun. This also referred to as the leeward and windward sides. The leeward side is usually protected by elevation (mountains) from the prevailing winds and this side is usually the drier side of the islands. The windward side  are upwind and is subjected to the prevailing wind and thus the wetter side of the island.

As such, in Fiji the areas which are on the leeward side are the Western Division - Sigatoka, Nadi, Lautoka, Ba, Rakiraki, Tavua along with Labasa and Seaqaqa. These are the dry areas in Fiji which are usually hard hit during the dry season with many a times, a drought being declared in these areas. They are also the areas most hard hit during the cyclone season. Many a times, during times of sudden and heavy rain or during the cyclone season, these places encounter a lot of floodings.

Meanwhile, the windward sides which are usually wet include Suva, Rewa, Nausori, the various highlands in the country along with Savusavu and Bua.