Furore over forecast price; Karan to meet FSC officials

Permanent Secretary for the Office of the Prime Minister Yogesh Karan. Picture: FT FILE

SUGAR Ministry permanent secretary Yogesh Karan is meeting Fiji Sugar Corporation officials this week to discuss concerns raised by canegrowers about the $53.69 per tonne forecast price for the 2019 season announced last week.

“I will be meeting with the FSC senior management to discuss this and other issues including the concerns from the Fiji Cane Lorry Operators Association about weight restrictions,” he said.

Farmers who contacted this newspaper said the announcement was “not good” because of the low delivery payment of $32.33 per tonne – 60 per cent of the forecast price.

Prominent Ba grower Arun Sharma said growers from Nadi to Tavua would be the most affected.

“These farmers will have to fork out money from their pockets because the actual cost is $35 per tonne,” he said.

Mr Sharma said the $35 per tonne cost included $22 for manual cutters, $10 per tonne for transportation to the mill, $2 per tonne for the sardar and $1 per tonne for tractor hire.

“That is the lower end of costs, some farmers because of the area they are in pay as much as $43 per tonne in costs. So where will they get the money to meet their costs if the delivery payment is only $32.33 per tonne.”

Mr Sharma said growers in Sigatoka and Rakiraki would not be impacted by the drop in forecast price because of government subsidies on transportation costs.

He said farmers who used mechanical harvesters would not be affected because of the regulated $17.50 per tonne price for machine hire enforced by Government.

FSC chief executive officer Graham Clark said he would provide an explanation on how the forecast price was derived tomorrow.

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