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FSC Field Officers Under Spotlight To Better Engagement

FSC Field Officers Under Spotlight To Better Engagement
Ministry of Sugar Permanent Secretary Yogesh Karan in a conversation with farmers during a talanoa session in Labasa on August 9, 2018. Photo: Shratika Naidu
August 12
12:50 2018

Fiji Sugar Corporation (FSC) field officers in various sec­tors have been challenged by Ministry of Sugar’s Perma­nent Secretary Yogesh Karan to work closely with farmers.

During a talanoa session with sugarcane farmers at Labasa Cane Producers’ Association (LCPA) on Thursday Mr Karan said he thought there were some elements of engagement that was weakening.

“Or weakened from the time I know how closely field officers were working with farmers,” he said.

“If field officers are not doing their work and if you are not as­sisted in any way you can raise this issue with the FSC or with the Sugar Ministry.

“Farmers are very important to me.”

During the talanoa session farmers raised queries about quota distribution, mill break down, water problems and labour shortage.

There were also representatives from the Labasa Cane Producers Association (LCPA), Sugar Cane Growers Fund, Sugar Cane Grow­ers Council and FSC chief oper­ating officer Navin Chandra to clarify issues.

Mr Karan said drainage and ir­rigation were also important in cane fields.

“Each time I go across the coun­try there are many complaints raised to our office about blocked drainage and excessive water in the cane fields,” Mr Karan said.

“I think the drainage has been neglected for a long time.

“This is a reason why Govern­ment established the Ministry of Waterways.

“In this year’s National Budget, we have a new funding for irriga­tion.

“The whole idea about irriga­tion is that where there is a water source or water access we want to drain this into your farms,” he told the farmers.

“Funding is to also assist farm­ers with water pumps and hoses so during a dry season they can use these facilities to water farms.

“This funding is available with us. It was advertised in last year’s budget on the accessibility of funds on small grants.”

All funding for last year has been exhausted, it was revealed.

Farmers, who came for the small implements like water pumps, garden tools and so on, have been assisted.

“There has been more request for harvesters from farmers,” Mr Karan said.

“But, we need to be mindful that we do not over supply the har­vesters because it will then put pressure on cooperatives to ser­vice their loans.

“The Fiji Development Bank and Sugar Cane Growers Fund are working together with farmers to help them.”

Edited by Percy Kean

Feedback: shratikan@fijisun.com.fj

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