Understand farmers’ situation, says Karan

Sugar Ministry permanent secretary Yogesh Karan is concerned about mill stoppages at Lautoka and Rarawai. This was the scene outside the Lautoka mill recently when a factory breakdown resulted in the backlog of trucks and long waits for drivers. Picture R

Picture: FILE

REFRAIN from making negative comments about plans to bring in overseas canecutters until you have spoken to farmers, says Ministry of Sugar Industry permanent secretary Yogesh Karan.

He said since Government announced plans to import labourers, naysayers had a lot to say about an issue they knew little about.
“There have been a lot of comment in mainstream and social media about this, but the unfortunate fact is people have been saying things without a good understanding of what growers are going through,” he said.
“Before you decide to make any comment, go and speak to the farmers and try to understand the difficulties they face with local labourers.
“Local canecutters demand upfront payment or goodwill and then they place unrealistic demands on the types of food they want — they want specific meat dishes on specific days, they want television sets, they demand grog — which is very expensive.
“We have noted instances where farmers have to go without certain things just to ensure they are able to meet the demands of local canecutters.”
Mr Karan said experienced foreign canecutters would only be brought in if there was a demand that was not able to be met locally.
“The fact of the matter is we really do not want to bring in foreign labourers, but we also need to ensure that every harvestable stalk of cane is cut — and if that means importing labourers then we will assist growers by facilitating this.”