27 May 2013

Fiji sugar industry remains in trouble despite record payout

5:11 am on 27 May 2013

The general secretary of the Fiji Cane Growers Association says the industry remains in serious trouble, despite a near record payout for the 2012 season.

The interim government called the payout to cane farmers of just over 80 Fiji dollars a ton, a huge achievement and a sign that its reforms were paying off.

But Bala Dass says while the higher returns might provide some relief, the outlook for the industry, which has been in decline for 12 years, remains dire.

He says government efforts have made a difference at the mills but it is a different story for the farmers.

"The cost of production, the cost of harvesting, the cost of delivery - it has gone so high and at the end of the day the farmers are left with very little money or no money, so therefore i can see that the industry is not on the right path. Unless and until farmers have built their confidence the industry is still in trouble."

Bala Dass says other major issues are land leases and the shortage of labour, with fewer young people willing to get involved in cane farming.