THE Fiji Sugar Corporation has announced its intention to keep the Lautoka and Rarawai sugar mills open past the previously announced crush termination dates.
The extension of crushing at the two mills should result in a significant portion of the 170,000 tonnes of cane still standing in fields to be processed over the extended period.
The announcement has been enthusiastically received by sugarcane growers representative organisations across the Western Division.
Speaking to this newspaper, FSC executive chairman Abdul Khan said the corporation was well aware of the challenges facing cane growers in the two areas and was extending end-of-crush dates to ensure that the maximum amount of harvestable cane was processed this season.
"In terms of the closure of our mills, we are looking at extending crushing at the Lautoka Mill to November 3, with November 2 being the last day of harvesting and we are presently reviewing Rarawai which is likely to cease crushing for this season on November 9," he said.
Gyan Singh, president of the Rarawai Penang Cane Producers Association, said the announcement was good news for cane farmers in Ba and Tavua.
"This will greatly assist our members to get most of their cane processed and reduce the amount of standover cane," he said.
Fiji Cane Producers Association general secretary Bala Dass said the decision to extend crush termination dates showed understanding by the FSC on the difficulties faced by growers with inclement weather, labour shortages and transport issues.
Crushing at Lautoka was initially scheduled to terminate on October 26 and October 28 at Rarawai.