Labour shortage result in slow cane supply

Rakiraki truck driver Muni Chand (2nd from left) with other drivers waits patiently for the Lautoka Sugar Mill to start crushing. Picture: REINAL CHAND/FILE

LABOUR shortage issues resulted in slow cane supply to the Fiji Sugar Corporation’s Lautoka and Rarawai mills over the weekend.

“The mills stopped production on Sunday morning due to low cane supply but are all now back in operation as of Monday as cane supply begins to normalise,” said FSC.

“Our field teams are working closely with the growers to improve cane supply consistency. “Sunday deliveries have been problematic for some years, but the introduction of more mechanical harvesters is seen as a potential solution.”

Rarawai Penang Cane Producers Association president Jinend Singh said cane supply issues were a result of two things.

“Firstly, farmers are finding it very difficult to find labourers to cut cane,” he said.

“Secondly, farmers are just being cautious. “They want to wait until there are sure the mill will operate without breaking down. “Once they are happy that the mill is operating well, they will go out and get cane cutters.”

Mr Singh said mechanical harvesters operating in the Rarawai-Penang mill areas were also harvesting very well. The Rarawai mill is expected to crush 595,000 tonnes of sugarcane this year – 468,000 tonnes within Rarawai sectors and 127,000 from Penang sectors.