19 Dec 2006

Fiji sugar growers worried by possible pull out of EU support

10:36 am on 19 December 2006

The livelihoods of the 200,000 people dependent on Fiji's already ailing sugar industry will be at stake if the European Union pulls out its assistance to the country in the wake of the coup two weeks ago.

The general secretary of the Fiji Cane Growers Association, Baba Dass, has told the Fiji Sun the assistance was given on humanitarian grounds because the EU is already reducing the price it pays for Fiji sugar.

Mr Dass says if EU assistance is stopped now, the sugar industry will collapse and the whole of the country will suffer, not just the cane farmers.

He says other industries in Fiji like tourism and garments are very volatile because they depend on the political situation.

But the sugar industry carries on with planting, harvesting and milling despite coups and changes in the weather, and exports continue.

Mr Dass says he hopes the military government can take Fiji back to democracy as soon as possible so that the European Union and other aid donors reconsider their course of action.

European Union assistance to Fiji is valued at over 206-million US dollars.