14 Jul 2015

The future of Fijian sugar cane industry not so sweet

5:48 am on 14 July 2015

Fiji's National Farmers Union says the future of the country's sugar cane industry could be in doubt.

A sugar cane cutter near Lautoka, Fiji

A sugar cane cutter near Lautoka, Fiji Photo: RNZI / Sally Round

The country's cane farmers have begun harvesting however many are facing delays of up to six months due to labour shortages.

The union estimates up to 40 percent of the country's harvesting labour gangs aren't operating as they are unable to find enough people to fill them.

The Union's general secretary, Mahendra Chaudhry, says the issue is just one of many difficulties for the industry.

"I think the industry is facing quite a few challenges. The size of the industry itself in the last eight years shrank by 50 percent, and it's got some serious problems. Whether the industry will survive is a big question mark and if it doesn't survive, if it goes down the tube, then of course that will have serious implications for Fiji's economy."

Mahendra Chaudhry says efforts by the government to rejuvenate the industry are yet to bear fruit.