Fiji Sugar Farmers Threaten To Boycott Harvesting Over Low Prices
500 farmers need higher return to justify cutting cane
SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, June 16, 2016) – Labasa sugarcane farmers will boycott the harvesting of cane this crushing season unless Government increases the price per tonne of cane by $10 [US$4.80].
In a statement, National Farmers Union general secretary Mahendra Chaudhry said about 500 growers at a meeting held last weekend indicated they did not have the funds to commence harvesting on June 14 because of the low fourth cane payment of only $11.12 [US$5.33] a tonne.
“They want crushing at the Labasa mill delayed until arrangements can be made for the additional payment,” Mr Chaudhry said.
“The growers have asked us to notify the Sugar Industry Tribunal, Fiji Sugar Corporation and the Sugar Ministry of this decision.”
Mr Chaudhry said growers had so far received $74.56 [US$35.74] a tonne for their 2015 crop, adding they were not expecting any more than $75 [US$36] as final cane payment for the season.
“The 2015 payment, therefore, will be quite low compared with the last three seasons’ payments, which have been above $80 a tonne.
“Labasa growers pointed out they had, in fact, been promised cane payments of about $110 [US$53] a tonne by FSC and the Sugar Ministry in the lead-up to the 2014 general election and they now feel cheated.”
Mr Chaudhry also said farmers would begin harvesting once their concerns had been addressed.
FSC chairman Abdul Khan said he would not comment on the matter, adding they were preparing for the 2016 crushing season and they had been given assurances that growers would harvest their cane this season.
Source: Pacific Islands Report. Date: June 15, 2016