INDIGENOUS cane farmers in the north are worried about harvesting their cane on time as most of them don't own trucks to transport their crop to the mill.
The situation, iTaukei Growers Association co-ordinator Adi Sivo Ravuwale said, had discouraged many iTaukei farmers from harvesting this season.
"Our members have already visited truck owners who are also farmers asking to hire their trucks but have been told to wait," she said.
"The truck owners who are farmers have told us they will use their trucks first because they're also harvesting their cane and when they finish harvesting, they will then hire their trucks out.
"Right now, most of us are stuck and we don't know what to do. None of us has started harvesting because we don't have the available transport."
Divisional planning officer north Alipate Bolalevu referred all queries to provincial administrator Macuata Joseva Rokonai who handles cane farming issues on behalf of the Commissioner Northern's office. Mr Rokonai advised the association to first visit Fiji Sugar Corporation officials in Labasa to discuss the transport situation.
He said FSC officials and senior government officers would meet today to discuss issues relating to the harvesting season already in progress in Labasa.
Seaqaqa farmer Iliesa Sakealevu said hiring a truck cost $17 a tonne of cane. "Right now, we have to wait for the truck owners, mostly farmers too, to finish harvesting their crop before we can hire their trucks.
"Most of us are in areas that rail carts don't have access to so we depend on trucks. This is the situation we face every year and most of the time, it is the iTaukei cane farmers who have standover cane, we lose out financially."
Farmer Manasa Rasalato said: "Right now, we can't harvest or do anything because of the transportation costs of $17 a tonne and we don't have or own trucks to transport our cane to the mill."