A WEEKLY average of 29 cane farm fires have been recorded in the Tagitagi and Dramasi sectors in Tavua, says Duavata Tavua Crime Prevention Committee chairman Rajendra Raghlu.
He said serious concerns had been raised by sugar industry stakeholders to address the issue through a series of meetings and farm visitations.
"From our visitations we have discovered that some cane farm fires were accidental while others were deliberate," he said.
"We have been talking to canegrowers and cutters to help in the fight against cane fires but, unfortunately, more cane fires have been recorded.
"Farmers have been urged to be mindful of the dry season which can cause fires to spread very quickly."
Mr Raghlu said the onus was on farmers and cutters to take ownership in controlling fires.
Sugar Ministry permanent secretary Manasa Vaniqi said indiscriminate cane fires cost the industry $22million last year and a further $11m so far this year.
He said the level of sugar quality was reduced in burnt cane and contaminants like dextran increased as a result of burning; cane production costs were also increased because of the increased use of chemicals to purify burnt cane.
Mr Vaniqi said the ministry was working with the police to stop disgruntled individuals who hindered the growth of the industry.
"The sugar industry has been one of the key drivers of the Fijian economy and is one of Fiji's most competitive and leading agricultural export commodities" he said.
Last month, the ministry donated 30 horses to police officers in the West to help fight cane fires.