Ba growers to rake in $12.75million

Sugarcane truck drivers wait patiently for their turn to unload cane at the Lautoka Mill. Picture: REINAL CHAND

MORE than 150 sugarcane growers in Ba could rake in a total of $12.75 million in the next two years, thanks to a cooperative arrangement established by Australian agriculture expert Brendan Davies.

Mr Davies said his company, FarmWorld-Fiji, had been overwhelmed with the response from farmers, especially from landowners who had left cane farming because of high cultivation, labour and transport costs.

“Initially, I had 20 farmers in our Ba cooperative but as we began our development work and people got to see the results, word has spread and we now have more than 150 farmers from five sectors with 1500 hectares of land,” he said.

“Our production figures have a proven yield of 100 tonnes of cane per hectare.

“And by producing 150,000 tonnes of cane and taking into account Government’s guaranteed price of $85 per tonne of cane, these farmers are looking at $12.75m, less our 10 per cent management fee.

“Apart from the economic boost, land that was previously idle is now being utilised through the very robust tractors and equipment we have brought in from Australia.”

Farmers who had abandoned cane are now re-entering the business, thanks to an arrangement between FarmWorld-Fiji, Fiji Sugar Corporation, Sugar Cane Growers Fund, Sugar Cane Growers Council, Sugar Research Institute of Fiji and the Sugar Ministry.

Under the arrangement, farmers are able to receive $3400 to meet land preparation, cultivation and planting costs from Government’s cane development revolving fund and cane planting grant.

The Fiji Sugar Corporation said while it had not entered into a partnership with FarmWorld-Fiji, it was encouraged by the company’s plans.

“FSC encourages and commends FarmWorld-Fiji for this objective but confirms that no partnership with existing contractors, such as FarmWorld-Fiji or any others, have been entered into.”

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