Farmers recover transport cost

Farmers in the North recieve their cheque of $574, 603.38 as transport subsidiary for cane farmers. Picture: LUKE RAWALAI

A TOTAL of 2866 farmers recovered part of their transportation costs from the 2017 harvest after receiving their cheque of $574,603.38 from the Labasa Cane Producers Association (LCPA).

Speaking at the cheque handover yesterday, the association’s executive officer Ravnil Raj said farmers were subsidised a dollar per tonne of their total cane harvest last season.

Mr Raj said the small sugar markets fetched by Government from 2015 onwards had helped the association to be active in supporting farmers in the North.

“LCPA now has an excellent stand in the Fairtrade arena after passing this audit.”

Officiating at the cheque handover yesterday, Sugar Ministry permanent secretary Yogesh Karan said such incentives would build the industry further because we had gone through some difficult times like Severe TC Winston.

“Government’s plan is to make this industry a sustainable one and there is a lot of issues we see at hand,” said Mr Karan.

“I know that you face issues dealing with cane access roads, cane transportation cost, finding canecutters, paying them and feeding them and these costs are increasing, we know for a fact that these are absolute costs that cannot be eliminated.”

“This is the reason why government wants to mechanise the industry and we should have done it many decades ago. “Unfortunately, the thinking at that time would not have been there to mechanise the industry.”

Mr Karan said other major sugar producing countries like India and Brazil had mechanised their sugar industries long time back, adding Fiji should have learnt from them.