Cane farmers continue to face lack of labourers

Lack of canecutters has remained a problem for many farmers this season, with most yet to locate labourers. Picture: SERAFINA SILAITOGA

LACK of canecutters has remained a problem for many farmers this season, with most yet to locate labourers.

National Farmers Union president Surendra Lal said there would be a slow start to next week’s crushing season.

Like past years, he said, farmers had been challenged by the shortage of labourers.

“To make the situation worse this year, the cutters are demanding for $25 per tonne and not the normal $20 farmers pay them,” he said.

“The farmers can’t afford to pay this when they are paying for food, electricity, and water at the camps used by labourers.

“So we believe Government should subsidise more costs for farmers apart from fertilizer as this will lighten the financial burdens farmers face.”

Mr Lal said the demand by cutters to increase their pay to $25 was a drawback for many farmers.

“Right now, farmers are hesitant to employ too many labourers and have decided to help out as groups,” he said.

“Government has made known their intention to bring foreign workers. The money they will use to bring in the foreign workers should be used on our farmers through subsidies.”

Mr Lal said they were working with their members to secure cane-cutters for this season. Despite the challenging situation, some farmers have started harvesting their cane in the Labasa area.

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