SUNBIZ

Labasa Cane Farmers: We Will Go Ahead With Harvesting

  Farmers in the North, the Fiji Sun interviewed yesterday, confirmed they will go ahead with harvesting cane as cane processing begins tomorrow at the Labasa Mill. They were responding
15 Jun 2016 12:27
Labasa Cane Farmers: We Will Go Ahead With Harvesting
Sugarcane labourers harvesting cane at Qelewaqa in Labasa yesterday. Photo:SHRATIKA NAIDU

 

Farmers in the North, the Fiji Sun interviewed yesterday, confirmed they will go ahead with harvesting cane as cane processing begins tomorrow at the Labasa Mill.

They were responding to a statement from the National Farmers Union claiming Labasa cane growers are demanding an additional $10 a tonne payment before they begin harvesting for the 2016 season.

The NFU said growers had requested the Sugar Industry Tribunal Fiji Sugar Corporation and the Sugar Ministry that crushing at the Labasa Mill be delayed until the additional payments are made.

The statement was made following a NFU meeting at the Labasa Civic Centre on Saturday. Close to 500 cane growers are said to have been in attendance, the NFU claimed.

Fiji Sugar Corporation executive chairman, Abdul Khan, when contacted yesterday said he could not comment on this issue.

Similarly, Fiji Sugar Cane Growers Council chief executive, Sundresh Chetty, said he was not aware of this issue and could not comment either.

The Fiji Sun yesterday saw cane farmers had already begun harvesting cane.

Farmers confirmed they will start dumping cane at the Labasa Mill from early morning today.

It is understood the first tipping of the cane for processing will be done by Tui Macuata, Ratu Wiliame Katonivere, at 10am tomorrow.

 

Farmers assure no boycott

The individual cane growers the Fiji Sun spoke to yesterday, indicated they have no intention of boycotting the harvesting.

Somendra Prasad of Qelewaqa, Labasa, said he had attended the meeting but there was nothing about boycotting harvesting.

Thus, he said he will go ahead with his family and harvest the cane.

“Farmers had raised their concerns that they needed additional funds to assist them harvest their cane, pay for larbourers and supply cane to the mill,” he said.

Bhisun Deo, a cane farmer of Vunicuicui, Labasa, said he was not aware of the meeting on Saturday and was still going ahead with harvesting in cane.

Another cane farmer from Tabucola, Labasa, Dharmen Gounder, said according to his understanding, all farmers in his area wanted to harvest

“No one can afford to boycott because at one point in time we have to harvest cane and if we don’t it is us, farmers who are going to suffer in the long run,” Mr Gounder said.

Another cane farmer, 40-year-old Vinodan Chetty of Wailevu, said he did not hear about the meeting but would not be affected because he had labourers and felt work must continue.

“My forefathers have been working in this six acre farm and I have continued in good faith,” Mr Chetty said.

“Therefore, I will continue with the good work by supplying cane to the mill.”

 

Reason for demand

Union general secretary, Mahendra Chaudhry, said cane growers had said during the meeting they did not have the funds to commence harvesting because of the low fourth cane payment of only $11.12 a tonne.

“They do not have sufficient funds to engage labour and pay for all other costs associated with harvesting and delivery to the mill,” he said.

Feedback:  shratikan@fijisun.com.fj

 

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