Hiring labourers concerns farmers

Fiji Cane Lorry Transport Association president Jitendra Singh at Johnson Rd, Lautoka. Mr Singh has raised his concerns on the issues faced by sugarcane truck owners and drivers. Picture: REINAL CHAND

Some Lautoka canegrowers are worried about hiring labourers from other parts of Fiji because of the escalating cases of COVID-19.

Drasa grower Jitendra Singh said this was a major concern for families in the industry because labourers came from outside Lautoka during the annual crushing season.

“We farmers are prepared to harvest and there is no problem about that,” Mr Singh said.

“The problem is that the pandemic has spread to most parts of the country and our cutters are from Tailevu, Navua and Rewa.

“There are many cases already and this is one of the main issues right now, it’s a big worry.”

The Fiji Cane Lorry Transport Association president said they were also waiting to see protocols related to the harvest and transport of cane.

“How will lorry drivers cope in the mill yard in terms of social distancing as most of them usually wait for hours before offloading canes?” he asked.

“We can come up with a plan on how best we can start crushing while adhering to restrictions if we sit and discuss.

“There should be plans as this is the first time harvesting is happening in the middle of a pandemic.”

Mr Singh said the voices of Fijian canegrowers needed to be heard before crushing began in the coming weeks.

The 59-year-old owns a 40-acre cane farm at Drasa outside Lautoka.

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