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Fiji Time: 12:50 PM on Friday 25 April

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Evicted farmers show interest

Felix Chaudhary
Friday, January 04, 2013

DESPITE the devastation carved out by Tropical Cyclone Evan in the Western Division — especially in the cane growing belt — there is an air of optimism in the industry that better days are coming.

Evicted sugarcane farmers have been making genuine enquiries on land availability with the view to plant sugar cane.

The Sugar Cane Growers Council's acting chief executive officer, Sundresh Chetty, said his phone had been ringing non-stop.

"We have been inundated with calls on a daily basis from tenants whose leases had expired, enquiring about land availability and the availability of leases.

"This renewed interest has been buoyed by a huge improvement in mill performance, increased support from industry stakeholders and the government and also a significant increase in the actual cane price expected for last season's crop," he said.

Mr Chetty said incentives like a reduction interest for loans for lease renewals by the Sugar Cane Growers Fund and the waiver of lease surrender fees by the iTaukei Land Trust Board negotiated by the Sugar Ministry and Committee on Better Utilisation of Land (CBUL) were enticing growers back into sugarcane farming.