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Lack Of Labourers Worries Farmers

With the cane harvesting season approaching, farmers in the Northern Division are worried about the shortage of labourers and canecutters. National Farmers Union president Surendra Lal said this had unfortunately
17 Jun 2018 15:14
Lack Of Labourers Worries Farmers

With the cane harvesting season approaching, farmers in the Northern Division are worried about the shortage of labourers and canecutters.

National Farmers Union president Surendra Lal said this had unfortunately been an ongoing issue.

Mr Lal said the situation was such that farmers were trying to get labourers from far away and accommodate them near their farms.

“It does not help when the cutters are demanding $25 per tonne and not the normal $20 farmers pay them,” he said.

“Farmers cannot afford to pay this when they pay for food, electricity and water at the camps used by labourers.

“Right now farmers are refusing to employ too many labourers and Government has made known its intention of bringing in overseas labourers. We are working with members to secure cane cutters for this season,” he said.

In order to combat this shortage, cane farmers are now forming more co-operatives and buying mechanical cane harvesters.

Mr Lal said they expected to see more mechanical cane harvesters in operation this year compared to only 15 the past year.

“We are quite happy to see farmers are forming cooperatives and buying mechanical cane harvesters. We are also encouraging farmers to form cooperatives,” he said.

Farmer Dinsehwar Kumar said although he was facing the problem of shortage of labourers, but he is expecting a good year.

“Labasa did not face any tropical cyclone last year.

“So no damages were done on the sugar crop,” Mr Kumar said.

Another farmer, Khemraj Lal, echoed similar sentiments.

“I am facing shortage of labourers; they are now picky of the job given to them. This is a good season for us cane farmers,” he said.

Tui Macuata Ratu Wiliame Katonivere will begin the cane crushing season with the tipping of the first load at the Labasa Sugar Mill.

“The Labasa cane belts provide for about 40 per cent of the total crop crushed per season. We are excited about the crop this year for Labasa,“ Mr Lal said.

Feedbacks: nacanieli.tuilevuka@fijisun.com.fj



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