18 Apr 2012

Fiji's wet weather sets back sugar crushing

12:22 pm on 18 April 2012

The Fiji Sugar Corporation says flooding and persistent wet weather mean cane processing will probably start a month late this year.

The executive chairperson says the recent floods, in which six people died and thousands more had to flee their homes, along with January's fatal floods, have reduced the crop by about 700,000 tons.

Abdul Khan says the two disasters have caused more than 11 million US dollars' worth of damage to both crops and infrastructure, with the latest flooding wiping out cane access roads and rail bridges.

But he says the maturation of the cane also determines when crushing can begin.

"If we look at the lack of sunshine that we've had for photosynthesis and to mature the cane, we may see a late maturing crop and hence the reason why the start date may be closer to mid to late June rather than late May early June."

Abdul Khan says some of the rail network will be converted temporarily to roading to enable farmers to get crops to the mill.