LABOUR shortages for canegrowers supplying the Lautoka mill has forced farmers to venture into the Central and Eastern divisions in search of canecutters.
The chronic problem has also prompted the Lautoka Cane Producers Association to seriously consider purchasing two mechanical harvesters for next season.
Association executive manager Arvin Singh said the issue was a major concern.
"Because of the labour problem, about 40 per cent of the gangs have not been mobilised," Mr Singh said.
"This is the best time to harvest because the weather and conditions are optimum for good quality green cane.
"As an association, we have decided to buy two harvesters next year.
"This will ease the labour issue for our members."
Mr Singh said the harvesters would be hired out at a reduced rate to association members.
"It will be a costly venture but it is something we need to do because we cannot continue or expand if we can't find labourers to harvest cane during the crushing season."
Labour issues in Ba resulted in the formation of the Wailailai Co-operative by a group of farmers. The co-op purchased a $250,000 harvester from India with contributions from each member and $10,000 from the Rarawai Penang Cane Producers Association.