SUGARCANE farmers from the Cuvu and Olosara sectors in Nadroga arrived in numbers at a stakeholders meeting yesterday to request the restoration of the railway system for cane transportation.
They said the rail system in the area was damaged in 2004 and since then farmers had been forced to shoulder the high cost of lorry transportation costs.
Cuvu farmer Raga Sami Goundar said cane production was low compared to previous years mainly because farmers could not afford lorry transportation.
"We want the railway system to be reconstructed," he said.
"The railway is much cheaper compared to the lorry transportation and I believe the scrapping of the railway has affected cane production.
"We used to pay $16 per tonnage for railway transportation whereas for the lorry, we have to pay $45 per tonne.
"This problem has also resulted in many stand over cane not harvested in the fields."
Mr Goundar claimed that prior to 2004 he produced more than 500 tonnes.
"Now I am only producing around 100 tonnes because I can't afford the lorry costs."
Janardhan, of Namuka, echoed similar sentiments.
"Cane production has decreased drastically over the past years and this is because of the high cost of transportation," he said.
"Production will again improve provided the railway system is back in place."
Responding to the complaints, Sugar Industry Tribunal industrial commissioner Tim Brown said talks were in the pipeline to reconstruct the railway system.
Meanwhile, Sugar Cane Growers Council acting chief executive officer Sundresh Chetty said the meeting between the growers and the sugar stakeholders was a success.