SUNBIZ

$2 Million To Help Harvesting

The grant enables equal access on the use of mechanical harvesters by all cooperative members. Sixteen sugar cane farmers co-operatives throughout the Western Division have applauded Government’s initiative in assisting
16 May 2017 12:45
$2 Million To Help Harvesting
Stallion Cane Harvester Co-operative president Shahin Khan signs the agreement. Sitting at right is Sugar Cane Growers Council CEO Sundresh Chetty. Standing (l-r) are Reshmi Kumari, Director Research Policy, Ministry of Sugar, incoming Director Sugar Sanjay Kumar, Commissioner Western Manasa Tagicakibau, outgoing Director Sugar and Acting Permanent Secretary for Sugar Viliame Gucaker and FSC CEO Graham Clark. Photo: CHARLES CHAMBERS.

The grant enables equal access on the use of mechanical harvesters by all cooperative members.

Sixteen sugar cane farmers co-operatives throughout the Western Division have applauded Government’s initiative in assisting them acquire mechanical harvesters with a $2 million grant.

The grant will go towards paying the $90,000 deposit needed by the Fiji Development Bank for the purchase of the harvester, which costs around $310,000 and the co-operatives repay the balance to FDB.

Acting Permanent Secretary and outgoing Director for Sugar Viliame Gucake said concerns were raised by farmers in July and Prime Minister and Minister for Sugar Voreqe Bainimarama announced an allocation of $2 million for Fiji Sugar Corporation Limited to purchase 2 to 3 mechanical harvesters for use by cane growers to address this concern.

“That announcement provided the Ministry of Sugar Industry the platform to start the planning on how this initiative could bring about immediate impact to reduce costs to the cane growers,” Mr Gucake said.

“After re-assessing that announcement Government in consultation with industry stakeholders decided that instead of purchasing 2 to 3 mechanical harvesters which would not bring about the desired impact, Government would participate in a joint arrangement with Farmer Cooperatives and the Fiji Development Bank where Government would provide the Farmer Cooperative’s deposit and the Bank provides the balance in loans.”

21 Cane Farmer Cooperatives successfully applied for the Mechanical Harvester Grants and loans from the Fiji Development Bank, he said.

The 16 co-operatives in the West yesterday signed their Grant Agreements and five signed theirs in Labasa.

This was witnessed by the Commissioner Western, Manasa Tagicakibau, Fiji Sugar Corporation CEO Graham Clark, FSC COO Navin Chandra and Sugar Cane Growers Council CEO Sundresh Chetty.

Mr Gucake said the beauty of this arrangement (Farmer Cooperatives) was that every member of the Cooperative had equal access to the use of the mechanical harvester.

“The success of this new harvesting initiative depends of all of us working together. It calls for a cooperative effort to work together, listen to each other, and approach this with a positive and a can-do attitude.”

Mr Gucake termed this as an era of doing things differently for the better.

“It is no longer business as usual. It is an era of approaching farming as a business not just as an occupation.”

Shahin Khan, president of the Stallion Cane Harvesters Co-operative from Sigatoka said this would in a lot of ways lift the industry.

Kamlesh Kumar, president of the Nadovi Cane Producers Co-operative in Nadi described Government’s initiative as “very good”.

Mr Kumar said they have 60 members co-operative and they aim to clear all cane in their area and move the machine to neighbouring cane farms and assist in the harvesting.

Rajendra Raglu, president of the Yaladro Farmers Co-operative in Tavua said Government should be commended for assisting farmers during these hard times.

Krishna, president of Veisaru Cane Producers Co-operative, said the grant was a big help for farmers.

Ramesh Chand, president of Koronubu Cane Farmers Co-operative said it was a right step for the betterment of the farmers and the industry.

“There is a labour shortage for harvesting and the problem has been solved by Government.”

Feedback:  charles.chambers@fijisun.com.fj

 

 

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