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NFP promises to restore confidence in the industry

Repeka Nasiko
Monday, August 04, 2014

THE National Federation Party has promised to restore confidence in sugarcane farmers.

NFP candidate Bala Dass said every year, the industry continued to lose farmers who had left in search of income in other sectors.

"This happens because they have lost faith in the industry," he said.

"About 5000 canefarmers have left in the past two years.

"We don't know where they have gone. Some of them had their land leases expired while others left because they are not making money."

Mr Dass said there was a provision in the NFP manifesto that it should be the responsibility of the government to look after displaced sugarcane farmers — those whose agricultural land leases had expired.

"We will review the sugarcane industry to ensure that farmers are protected and they are being taken care of unlike what is happening now," said the Fiji Cane Growers Association general secretary.

"Government is saying they have paid $80 for each tonne of cane. Our manifesto says we'll pay our farmers minimum $85 per tonne."

Mr Dass said the issue of the land leases would also be addressed by the party.

"Farmers sit on a ticking time bomb if they do not go through the proper channels and they just have an agreement with the landowners. They can't think that they can depend on that agreement.

"We will ensure that they go through the proper people and that is the iTaukei Land Trust Board which is the sole custodian of the native land leases.

"Our party has promised that we will try our ultimate best to ensure that farmers secure these agricultural leases."