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Call for State relief

Luke Rawalai
Saturday, November 04, 2017

THE National Farmers Union has reiterated that Government should provide relief assistance to drought-stricken canegrowers in the country.

NFU president Surendra Lal said according to official estimates, the 2017 cane crop had dropped from an estimated 2.2 million tonnes to 1.7m tonnes, adding that mills were closing early because of a lack of cane.

Mr Lal said this showed a crop loss of some 500,000 tonnes which was quite significant and that it would mean serious loss of income to growers.

"The situation is quite grim in the western cane belt and farmers have not only lost their cane, they have lost market garden and subsistence crops as well as livestock and there is a lot of hardship in the rural sector," he said.

"NFU is urging Government to provide humanitarian assistance to the suffering farmers."

Mr Lal also asked why Fiji Sugar Corporation and the Government is cutting back on the crop replanting assistance given to farmers at a time when farmers desperately needed financial assistance.

"Last year, growers received $1000 per acre for the 2017 crop and this year (for the 2018 crop) this has been drastically cut back to $600 per acre for the ratoon crop and $800 for fallow land," he said.

"Growers are very upset at this sharp reduction because it is costing them $600 per acre for land preparation alone."

Meanwhile, FSC said it did not respond to third party statements made to the media, as everyone was entitled to a view.

A statement from the company stated the 2017 planting grant paid to growers across Viti Levu was $1925 per hectare (this included land preparation, planting, aglime) plus labour assistance of $200 per hectare for growers impacted by Severe Tropical Cyclone Winston.

"For the 2018 planting season, this will be $2075 per hectare (including land preparation, planting, aglime and gap filling)," the statement reported.

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