- Fiji News
- Fiji Sports
By MAIKA BOLATIKI and
Cane farmers in the 10 sugarcane sectors in the Northern Division want more land to plant more cane.
At the meeting at Bucauisau yesterday, the Permanent Secretary for Sugar, Lieutenant-Colonel Manasa Vaniqi, heard the request of the farmers from the 10 field officers at the meeting.
He said by giving them more land, it would address the low sugar cane production now experienced at the Labasa Mill.
He said cane production had really dropped and this needed to be addressed quickly.
“Before the Labasa Mill was processing one million tonnes of cane and now it has drastically fallen. This year the production will be 456,000 tonnes,” Lieutenant-Colonel Vaniqi said.
He said the field officers had lists of the farmers who wanted more land and also those who wanted to return to cane farming.
During the discussions, the field officers unanimously agreed vacant land should be given to the current farmers to plant more cane and thus increase their cane production.
Most of the sugar cane farms, for which the leases had not been renewed, are lying idle.
Lieutenant-Colonel Vaniqi said they would be meeting the iTaukei Land Trust Board (TLTB) on the issue of the leases.
On the supply of sugar cane the mill, Lieutenant-Colonel Vaniqi said by yesterday it had improved.
The FSC in Labasa had said it had improved on its internal organisation and this would see a smooth supply of cane from the field and there would be less waiting time for the lorries to offload the cane.
Lieutenant-Colonel Vaniqi and his team return to Viti Levu today after their three-day tour of the sugar sectors in the Northern Division.
Meanwhile, Fiji Sugar Corporation executive chairman, Abdul Khan is calling on cane farmers, sugarcane cutters and lorry operators in the North to work together to address the issue of shortages in the supply of cane to the Labasa Sugar Mill.
Mr Khan said the Labasa Sugar Mill had processed just under 165,000 tonnes of sugar cane earlier this week, the shortage attributed to the inconsistency of the supply of cane to the mill.
“It is an issue of getting consistent supply of cane to the mill,” Mr Khan said.
“We are all working together with the farmers, cutters and lorry operators to improve this unfortunate situation,.”
“We need to work together to get all the sugar cane processed as quickly as possible and we urge farmers to have their cane delivered on time.”
Sugar Cane Growers Council senior executive officer Labasa, Rajendra Prasad said the short supply had come to light now because the mill had been operating well this year.
“For the last couple of years, this problem never occurred because the problem was always the mill,” he said.
“Farmers have always complained about the mill but now that the Labasa Sugar Mill is really doing well, without any disruptions, this shortage problem has surfaced.”
In the meantime, Mr Prasad said the council was working in partnership with Government and FSC to see that all sugarcane was harvested and the shortage problem were amicably solved.