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Growers call for FSC help

Felix Chaudhary
Monday, June 19, 2017

SUGARCANE growers in Ba who could not find labourers this season have called on the Fiji Sugar Corporation to assist them because of the great difficulties they are facing in harvesting cane.

Arun Sharma, a farmer from Naloto Sector, claims that during consultations on the FSC's Strategic Action Plan 2018-2022, FSC executives promised growers that 300 canecutters would be made available to assist them this season.

"They know the situation that we are in and they should not have made those types of promises," he said.

"We have about 40 gangs waiting for cutters and the FSC executives said that we had to register our interest at the sector office.

"We did as they asked but nothing has happened so far.

"We all have to fork money out of our pockets to find cutters and I went to Tailevu and took grog, advance money and food to try and get some labourers.

"My first trip was not very successful and I will have to go again to try and get cutters.

"The labour rate used to be $16 a tonne but now they are demanding $20 a tonne."

FSC chief executive officer Graham Clark said the miller was aware of the issue, however, he also said no promises were made to growers about acquiring labourers.

"We are aware of the shortage of canecutters generally and FSC has offered to assist farmers where possible in their efforts to recruit canecutters," he said.

"While it is a farmer's responsibility to harvest their own cane, we note the difficulties experienced by them and have offered assistance.

"This has not been presented as a 'promise' as we cannot guarantee success, but working with farmers and communities we are trying to play a part in finding a solution.

"We will continue working to help those who are finding it difficult to start harvesting, but encourage farmers to continue with their own efforts to engage canecutters while we provide assistance to find a solution."

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