National Federation Party - Fiji
03 September 2015: Media Release: Cane Growers Must Be Compensated – Yaqara cattle destroying
The Board and Management of Yaqara Company Pastoral Limited must compensate cane growers after cattle belonging to the company have destroyed several acres of young sugar cane crop belonging to growers on the outskirts of the pastoral boundary.
On Sunday 23rd August during a visit to Rakiraki, growers of Nanuku were gravely concerned about the destruction of their cane crop by cattle from Yaqara. The Party raised this matter with the Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum on 24th August and he assured me that he had contacted the Management of the company and informed them to control the cattle by mending their boundary fences.
Mr Sayed-Khaiyum even briefly made a mention of my conversation with him in Parliament on 24th August.
However, despite his assurance, the Company has not controlled its herd and prevented it from destroying cane farms. The following growers from Nanuku contacted me last evening after their crop was destroyed and their names and farm numbers are; Prem (868), Krishna (863), Deepak (862) and Paras (870).
We also have heard reports of growers in Dramasi, Drauniivi and Balata losing their crop to stray cattle from Yaqara. It is understandable that cattle are looking for green pasture, grass or any edible plants because of the prolonged drought. But it is the job of the Yaqara management to ensure its herd does not go stray and start eating away sugarcane crop of nearby growers whose only livelihood is cane cultivation and income from its proceeds during harvesting.
The destruction of cane farms is the destruction of growers’ livelihood resulting in a decline in cane production and affecting cane and sugar production, which is already suffering from the effects of the drought and has declined by almost 50% since 2006.
More than a week after raising the issue directly with the Attorney General, cane growers living in the vicinity of Yaqara continue to lose their sole source of livelihood because of what is seemingly the lackadaisical attitude of the Yaqara management to control its herd.
This is paying lip service to cane growers whose fruits of hard work and sweat are being destroyed by a government-controlled company’s inaction. We now demand that Government act decisively and direct the Management to strengthen its fencing to prevent cattle from breaking out.
Government together with the Sugar Cane Growers Council should immediately conduct a survey to assess losses suffered by growers and award them compensation based on the current cane price per tonne.
Yaqara Pastoral Company has the financial ability to compensate affected growers because recently it Government dividend worth $4.3 million in two installments.
Yaqara’s future profiteering at the expense of destruction of livelihood of cane growers will be criminal. Prof Biman Prasad Leader