Cane survey begins

SUGAR industry stakeholders have begun an extensive survey of cane growing areas in the Western Division to ascertain the extent of flood damage to farms.

Floodwaters associated with Tropical Cyclone Josie swept through the cane belt area and inundated farms in Sigatoka, Nadi, Lautoka, Ba, Tavua and Rakiraki on Sunday.

Sugar Cane Growers Council CEO Sundresh Chetty said during surveys over the past two days, damaged cane stalks, waterlogged farms and field littered with debris were the main concerns.

“A lot of damage has been seen and we will work together as an industry to assess the situation and see what can be done to assist our growers,” he said.

Industry stakeholders including the SCGC, Sugar Ministry, Fiji Sugar Corporation, Sugar Cane Growers Fund, Sugar Research Institute of Fiji and Sugar Industry Tribunal will meet today to discuss the impact of the floods and strong winds linked to TC Josie to farmers.

Ashish Kumar, a grower from Drasa Seaside, Lautoka, said he has lost a significant portion of his six acre cane farm to debris and flood.

“Compared to the three previous years, I was expecting a good cane crop this season,” he said.

“I was expecting to harvest about 200 tonnes but all that is gone now. “I am not sure how much of my cane will recover.”

His story is similar to that of hundreds of farmers from Sigatoka to Rakiraki.

Most of the farms affected were in low-lying areas and in areas located close to waterways.