THE purchase of a mechanical harvester by a group of farmers in Ba does not spell the end of employment opportunities for cane cutters, says Wailailai Co-operative secretary Dinesh Sharma.
"We realise that locally-based cutters need employment and we will be utilising them in areas where the mechanical harvesters can't be used," Mr Sharma said.
"Labour shortages have been a big issue for us and with a combination of mechanical harvesters in flat land areas and manual labour in hilly areas, getting all harvestable cane to the Rarawai mill will no longer be an issue."
The co-operative purchased a $250,000 mechanical harvester from India which will arrive in the country next month.
Sugar Cane Growers Council CEO Sundresh Chetty has lauded the initiative.