Fiji Time: 10:12 AM on Wednesday 25 November

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Hope for a solution

Felix Chaudhary
Friday, January 31, 2014

AN impasse between members of the general assembly of the Rarawai Penang Cane Producers Association could soon be resolved, says president Gyan Singh.

A snap audit by Flo Cert — the inspection and certification body for Fairtrade — has revealed the dismissal of eight board members was not in accordance with the organisation's constitution.

"We are now in the process of giving remedial action and proposing means to rectify this anomaly," Mr Singh said.

He said he had met the dismissed members of the association and discussions were being held with the aim of resolving issues in an amicable manner .

"We dismissed them and now it is established that the Constitution does not allow that, we are taking steps to find the best solution for the association," he said.

Mr Singh said services provided by the association would continue as normal until all the issues were resolved.

"In the case of the non-conformities that were found, we have been given 30 days to respond to this and once we provide Flo Cert with the remedial action that we are proposing, then we will be given 45 days to provide objective evidence of whether this is working or not."

Problems began within the association last year after eight members claimed the establishment of a pension scheme for farmers aged 70 years and above was not a priority.

A disgruntled group of farmers said despite receiving $1.4million in Fairtrade premiums for their sugar, they were not directly benefiting from the fund.

The group said farmers were not interested in pension schemes and preferred to have fertiliser subsidies and boreholes instead.

As tensions within the organisation rose, the disgruntled group was ousted, a move now recognised as not legal within the Fairtrade regulatory framework.

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