CANE gangs and the existing memorandum of cane gang agreement (MOGA) system is out of date and irrelevant in today's world, says Sugar Industry Tribunal commissioner Tim Brown.
"We, as an industry, can see that in five to 10 years time we will not have enough manpower to harvest cane," he said.
"And we have to do something about this now. In fact, we are already seeing the labour shortage issue happening right before our very eyes."
Mr Brown said the industry was now encouraging contract harvesters where canefarmers would deal with one individual instead of forming a gang under the MOGA system.
"Traditionally, growers would have relied on family members to assist in harvesting but all that has changed now.
"Farmers' children are moving into other forms of employment, that is a reality.
"Under the MOGA system, growers sometimes had differences with gang members and this has led to slow harvesting of cane at critical times."
The commissioner said they were looking at a solution where farm harvests were contracted to entrepreneurs.
"Farmers will deal with one individual, and that person arranges the lorry and manpower requirements. We are trying to change the mind-set of growers and contract harvesting is the way of the future."