Farmers stay covered

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama (right) and Sugar Cane Growers Fund chief executive offi cer Raj Sharma (left) hand over the sugarcane farmers insurance premium payment to FijiCare Insurance managing director Peter McPherson at the Fiji Sugar Corporation mill in Ba. Picture: REINAL CHAND

Government has paid out more than $300,000 in insurance premium for more than 1000 active sugarcane farmers in the country.

While handing out the assistance to FijiCare Insurance through the Sugar Cane Growers Fund in Ba yesterday, Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama said the agreement between the Ministry of Sugar and Sugar Cane Growers Fund would ensure that Government fully covered the premium payments for farmers from July to December.

“As you know under the terms of the bundle insurance scheme, the growers agreed to paying a premium from July, 2020, but we know how brutal the COVID-19 pandemic economic impact had on Fiji including our sugar industry,” he said.

“Of the many setbacks for instance we have not been able to operate our mechanised harvesters as efficiently as we would have liked because technicians from India are still in India.

“The point being we knew this premium payment would have created an additional financial burden on our canegrowers.

“So when the Sugar Cane Growers Fund asked Government to consider paying the farmer’s premiums from July to December 2020, we said yes.

“The result is this grant agreement in the amount of $300,731.76.”

He added Government’s commitment to strengthening the wugar industry has produced results that have empowered growers.

“We have guaranteed a price of $85 per tonne and we will keep our word.”

Sugar Cane Growers Fund board chairman Sundresh Chetty said the global pandemic has had a huge impact on the industry.

“COVID-19 has shown the importance of a diversified economy and more particularly investment in our agro-based industries,” he said.

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