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Fiji Time: 11:02 AM on Thursday 17 April

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Growers wary of costs

Felix Chaudhary
Tuesday, February 19, 2013

ABOUT 200 cane growers in Lautoka have raised their concerns about the increasing costs associated with production and transportation.

During an industry stakeholders meeting yesterday, growers of Saweni and Lautoka sectors said while they were perceptive to the introduction of a cane quality payment system this season, rising costs were inhibiting their ability to remain sustainable.

Acting Sugar Cane Growers Council CEO Sundresh Chetty said while the growers concerns were noted, it was also important that the farmers realised their potential to increase profits by improving yield.

"We acknowledge that harvesting and transportation costs have gone up and likewise that the sugar mills were not performing as efficiently as they should have," he said.

"However, we have seen a huge improvement in mill performance over the past year and we are working towards addressing harvesting and transportation issues. The onus is also on the farmers to ensure they introduce and implement new and more efficient farming methods and increase their yield per hectare from the current of 40 tonnes to 70 tonnes.

"This will immediately see a big increase in income and profits."

Growers at the consultations also highlighted the fact that the high cost of fertiliser was a big factor.

"The current cost is heavily subsidised by the government," Mr Chetty said.

"If not for the subsidy, growers would have to pay $45.59 per bag instead of the $31.50 they currently get it for. The reason for the high costs is the fact that all the raw materials are imported."