319 farmers suspended

Lorries loaded with sugar cane line up outside FSC Labasa Mill. Picture: SERAFINA SILAITOGA/FILE

A TOTAL of 319 sugarcane farmers were suspended from the Labasa Cane Producers Association this year.

The association’s internal control services officer, Mohammed Shah, said of this, 109 were placed under major suspension and 210 placed under minor suspension.

“Major suspension means they have been suspended for a year while minor suspension means they could be received back into the association once they adhere to certain requirements,” he said.

Mr Shah said the suspensions were imposed after farm inspections this year because they did not meet stringent Fairtrade requirements.

Cane producer associations were established to provide access to Fairtrade premiums of about $US70 ($F147) per tonne for sugar cane grown chemical-free and without the use of child labour.

The Fiji Sugar Corporation, apart from selling raw sugar to markets, also plays a significant role in looking for Fairtrade markets which attract premiums that are given directly to cane producer associations for community development projects.

“These farms placed under suspension are considered at risk and will not qualify for assistance as per our internal regulations.”

Mr Shah said meeting Fairtrade standards was not only about gaining financial benefits but was a way to improve social, environmental and economic development.

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