NATION

Land Needs To Be Available To Boost Sugar, says Clark

Fiji Sugar Corporation (FSC) needs to recover land to boost sugar cane cultivation. FSC chief executive officer Graham Clark made the comments during a talanoa session with Tavua sugar cane
10 Jun 2017 09:26
Land Needs To Be Available To Boost Sugar, says Clark
Tavua sugarcane farmers during the Fiji Sugar Corporation’s talanoa session at Tavua College on June 9, 2017. Photo: Shahani Mala

Fiji Sugar Corporation (FSC) needs to recover land to boost sugar cane cultivation.

FSC chief executive officer Graham Clark made the comments during a talanoa session with Tavua sugar cane growers on Thursday night.

“Availability of land to grow sugar cane guarantees increase sugar production and FSC is going to acquire land from Government on behalf of farmers,” Mr Clark said.

“There has been a drastic drop in the number of cane growers due to expiry of land leases, resettling of cane farmers and land issues,” he said.

“Here in Tavua during the good old days there were 70,000 hectares under cane. Today less than 40, I think 38,000 hectares and that is massive loss of land.

“I believe we (FSC) need 50,000 hectares so with the 38, 000 hectares we have now FSC just needs another 12, 000 hectares.”

Mr Clark told the Tavua farmers that FSC on behalf of the farmers can request Government to assist them get the underutilised sugarcane land back.

FSC apart from growing sugar cane will also allocate land to current and aspiring cane farmers to boost sugar production.

“FSC will take the lead role in planting but will give up once production picks up to farmers willing to extend their farms.”

Mr Clark has also assured farmers that FSC will be getting engineers to redesign Fiji’s sugar railway lines.

“This will save farmers money. They spend a lot transporting their harvest in lorries to Penang.”

He advised those attending the Tavua meeting that FSC is hiring out cane harvesting machines to those who cannot secure cane cutters.

The cost of hiring the cane harvesting machines is the same as the hiring of cane cutters.

On the issue of stray animals damaging cane farms Mr Clark said that issue needs to be raised to the appropriate authority.

“I thought that they were your animals. Now that I know we need to raise this to the appropriate authority,” he said.

A sugarcane farmer had raised a concern regarding attitude of some FSC staff when providing service to the sugarcane farmers.

While responding to this concern Mr Clark said this kind of behaviour by the FSC staff will not be tolerated.

He had also advised the farmers to lodge their complaints on their toll free hotline 08006661972.

More than 100 farmers attended the talanoa session.

Edited by Karalaini Waqanidrola

Feedback:  shahani.mala@fijisun.com.fj



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