Farmers face labour issues

Kuar Singh looks on as his Tomasi Nasagavula and Setoki Rokotuibau harvests cane at Nawaicoba, Nadi yesterday. Picture: BALJEET SINGH

LABOUR issues still affect many sugarcane farmers in the West.

Kuar Singh, a prominent grower and advisory councillor in Nawaicoba, Nadi, said it was especially difficult for farmers in his area to source cutters.

“It is difficult to get manual labour here but we have to because we have been told mechanical harvesters cannot cut cane in our farms because the area is hilly,” he said.

“Many farms still have standing cane as a result.”

Nawaicoba is home to at least 420 farmers, a number which has decreased by at least 20 compared with the past few years.

Mr Singh said they estimated a yield of at least 40,000 tonnes of sugarcane from the farmers combined.

Fiji Sugarcane Growers Council chief executive officer Sundresh Chetty said they were aware of the issue.

“The issue of canecutters is a nationwide issue,” he said.

“We are now trying to mobilise gangs and cutters who have finished cutting in their areas and seeking their assistance in helping those farmers whose cane is yet to be cut,” he said.

“Similarly, we are working with machines in flat areas.

“Once the machines are free from harvesting their own units, they move on to others.”

Mr Chetty said they had consultations with farmers from Yako and Nawaicoba sectors and noted the need for additional labour.

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