Opinion

EDITORIAL: Dirty Politics Blamed For Problems In Sugar industry

Has the door finally opened to see the exit of dirty politics, which has plagued the sugar industry for a long time, for good? Or has the politics, which has
11 Jul 2017 09:40
EDITORIAL: Dirty Politics Blamed For Problems In Sugar industry

Has the door finally opened to see the exit of dirty politics, which has plagued the sugar industry for a long time, for good?

Or has the politics, which has divided the cane belt and contributed to the sugar industry’s decline, still deeply embedded between the sugar cane stalks?

Today, there are still cane farmers who will not budge. They will not change their mindset and they will continue to curse the Government and the Fiji Sugar Corporation, despite the millions of dollars being poured into the industry to make life easier for them.

From a logical perspective one would think that these farmers would change because their grievances have now been addressed. But sadly no. They persist with their own brand of politics, refusing to recognise the positive changes that have taken place.

Historically, politics has been the sugar industry’s biggest enemy from day one. Even the National Federation Party was born in the cane fields before Fiji became independent. The National Farmers Union, the forerunner of the Fiji Labour Party, was also born in the Labasa canefarms in the 1980s.

The FLP is now the backbone of the NFU, of which Mahendra Chaudhry is General Secretary. The NFP is behind the Fiji Cane Growers Association.

Politics in Parliament has spilled into the cane fields. The so-called leaders had seen it fit to take the politics to the cane belt saw it fit to filter that down to the cane belts. The outcome has been divisive as representatives from different groups staked their own positions.

Politics destroyed any hope of  unity in trying to address the challenging issues in the industry. The industry went through turmoil and this eventuated with FSC and Government being blamed for the state of the industry.

Now the farmers have been given that chance to rid themselves of politics and make a better life for themselves.

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama, who is also Minister for Sugar has reiterated on many occasions to farmers that he wants politics out of the canefields and that they concentrate on sugar.

Never before has Government got behind the farmers and, like the proverbial saying, “put its money where its mouth is.”

Grants for replanting, fertilisers subsidies, mechanical harvesters, transportation costs, writing off of debts – these are part of Government’s assistance to the cane farmers.

Now we hear many happy farmers  talking. Their smiles are back and there is optimism that things are changing for the better.

Cane farmers need to realise now that politics had created confusion and contention in the cane fields.

In the final analysis, it was the cane farmers who suffered while politicians sat back and relaxed.

Perhaps there is light now showing at the end of the tunnel and it is now the opportune time for the cane farmers to kick politics out and say – that’s enough.

 

Feedback:  charles.chambers@fijisun.com.fj



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