SUNBIZ

Farm Mechanisation Grant Agreement Signed

Sugarcane co-operative members throughout the country were in joy after the signing of Farm Mechanisation Grant Agreement between the Ministry of Sugar Industry and Cane Farmers Co-operatives on Wednesday. Permanent
03 Aug 2018 10:24
Farm Mechanisation Grant Agreement Signed
Permanent Secretary for the Office of the Prime Minister Yogesh Karan (centre standing with tie) with members of different co-operatives after signing of the Farm Mechanisation Grant Agreement at Ministry of Sugar office in Lautoka on August 1, 2018. Photo: Yogesh Chandra

Sugarcane co-operative members throughout the country were in joy after the signing of Farm Mechanisation Grant Agreement between the Ministry of Sugar Industry and Cane Farmers Co-operatives on Wednesday.

Permanent Secretary for the Office of the Prime Minister and Sugar Industry Yogesh Karan was present to facilitate the agreement signing in Lautoka.

Mr Karan said that they had been planning to mechanise the industry for quite a while now.

“The reason for this is due to the shortage of labour in the country,” said Mr Karan.

The 22 cooperatives that had applied for the assistance through the farm mechanisation programme would now be assisted.

“Total cost of a set of a tractor with implements is $115,000 of which $45,000 (around 40 per cent) will be provided as a grant by the Ministry of Sugar to co-operatives while $70,000 (around 60 per cent) will be financed as a loan through the Fiji Development Bank,” Mr Karan said.

The government will incur a total cost of $1.17 million to assist the 22 co-operatives.

Mr Karan said that $2 million had already been allocated towards assisting 21 farming co-operatives.

“We assisted 21 co-operatives with a grant of $90,000 each and we were able to bring in 21 machines,” he said.

Mr Karan said that the cost of harvesting sugarcane had now reduced.

Inoke Mocetadra, president of Namata co-operative from Sigatoka said he was thrilled about the new grant agreement they had signed.

“This will be a major help to us. Most of the time we use men power and it creates a lot of problems when we cannot find workers,” Mr Mocetadra said.

“But now we can do better to increase the tonnage produced.”

Mr Mocetadra said one problem encountered in their region was the prolonged phases of drought.

However, he said they were thankful for the water tanks assisted by the government.

President of Ellington co-operative Vishnu Dutt said the grant would be a major step forward for the farmers.

He said that their region used to face tractor problems in the past however they had solved that leading to efficiency and growth.

Meanwhile, Mr Dutt also commented on the initiatives undertaken by the government to assist sugarcane farmers.

Operations have been stabilised:

Mohan

Mill breakdowns had affected Fiji Sugar Corporation (FSC) during the start of the crushing season this year, however, operations have been stabilised.

FSC chairman Vishnu Mohan confirmed this on Wednesday at a press conference at the head office in Lautoka.

“Our factory start-ups this season were characterised by factory stoppages in the first two weeks to stabilise factory equipment, offset by improved cane supply.

“As that total mill stoppages have been reduced by 12 per cent to date compared to the 2017 season,” Mr Mohan said.

A mill breakdown penalty had been introduced this year and they would compensate everyone affected in the next payout.

FSC chief executive officer Graham Clark said that around $20,000 in penalty would be paid to those affected by the mill breakdowns.

Mr Mohan also said mechanical harvesters used this year have increased to an expected 58 this season compared to 43 last year.

Feedback:  yogesh.chandra@fijisun.com.fj




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