Calls to increase cane price

THE National Farmers Union has labelled the 2018-2019 National Budget as a colourful discourse laced with political ambition, falling short of the expectations of sugarcane farmers around the country.

Union president Surendra Lal said they were expecting to hear more about the sugarcane industry in the budget which was announced by the Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum on Thursday night.

“We have been asking Government to realise the needs of farmers and increase cane tonnage price to $100 so that they can meet the current rise in costs of living,” said Mr Lal.

“Farmers are not comfortable with the current $85 per tonne price of cane because at the end of the day, they are left with nothing.”

National Federation Party member of Parliament and Seaqaqa canefarmer Parmod Chand called on Government to improve the price of cane, adding it was one of the lowest around.

“Farmers need support and I believe during the past 12 to 15 years, the sugar industry has nosedived under the present Government and something needs to be done for canefarmers in Fiji,” he claimed.

Meanwhile, during his budget address Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said they had set aside $62.3 million towards the Ministry of Sugar as they continued their efforts to modernise the industry to be more competitive in the global market and to be capable of supporting more than 200,000 Fijians who relied on the health of the sugar industry.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said Government would continue its incentives on sugarcane replanting, weedicide and fertiliser subsidies, farm mechanisation, subsidy for canecutters, rehabilitation of cane access roads, incentive for farmers to plant more cane and cane top up payments to farmers.

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