22 July, 2015, 12:00 am
LABOUR continues to be a problem for canefarmers in the North, says Vunimoli farmer Pradeep Kumar.
As part of his submissions at the Fiji Sugar Corporation annual award consultations, Mr Kumar said the shortage of labour was a major problem.
He said as a consequence, farmers were thinking about leaving sugarcane farming for greener pastures.
“I would request that parties concerned look into the issue seriously because it needs to be addressed before the matter becomes a catastrophic one,” Mr Kumar said.
“A strategy to solve the issue is to mechanise the industry but my plea to Government is to ensure that we do not purchase second-hand machines like the ones we have now.
“I have seen through the internet a wide variety of harvesters that could harvest cane on both flat and undulating lands.”
Mr Kumar said Government had done nothing to address the plight of farmers and the sugar industry in general.
“I heard the previous year that two harvestors would be brought by Government where one would be kept in the West and the North but the year has passed and nothing has materialised.”
When contacted, divisional planning officer North Alipate Bolalevu referred comments to the Sugar Cane Growers Council.
Meanwhile, Sugar Cane Growers Council senior executive officer Rajen Prasad said the problem was a national issue.
Mr Prasad said they were encouraging farmers to form co-operative to purchase harvesters.
He said the mechanisation of the industry was the only way forward.