Growers need 4th payment now
Friday 14th May 2021
The National Federation Party has today re-iterated its call for a $20 per tonne of sugarcane as 4th payment to cane growers for the 2020 harvesting and crushing season.
NFP Leader Professor Biman Prasad said while the payment is usually made by the Fiji Sugar Corporation a few days before 31st May each year, growers have been asking for the payment to be made much earlier.
He said this is to facilitate their -preparations for cane harvesting and planting of new crop as the planting season is now underway.
Professor Prasad said he is merely re-iterating calls made by the growers more than a month ago for FSC to pay $20 per tonne of cane.
The NFP Leader said he was called to meetings by growers in Ba, Tavua and Sigatoka during the 2nd week of April to take their voice to Parliament.
“Unfortunately, the parliament sitting from 26-30 April was deferred due to the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic”.
“Therefore the growers have no other forum but for us to amplify their voices through the media”.
“The growers, particularly in the Western Division, are suffering from the lockdowns and containment areas. They have to fend for their families as their children or grandchildren working in municipalities are unemployed due to Covid-19 restrictions”.
“At the time they made their call, there was no outbreak of the pandemic. But they understand that Government’s resources are stretched due to the battle against the deadly disease”.
“However, they rightly feel that renewed planting of new cane crop and preparations for a new harvesting season are necessary for economic revival and sustainability. And they are absolutely correct”.
“The sugar industry offers Fiji the best hope of creating sustainable and long-term economic activity in the absence of tourism or any other sector”.
“The $20 per tonne of cane as 4th payment that growers are requesting for is not unreasonable. A total of $25.30 is owed to them from the guaranteed price of $85 per tonne”.
“Therefore, what they want is their just dues and not a hand-out. It should come out of sale of proceeds of sugar plus top-up by government that should have been budgeted for:”
“Anything less would push a substantial number of 70% of average producing active growers numbering around 8,300 intro poverty, perpetual debt and out of the industry.
“And worse of all, have a severe impact on an ailing economy because of the absence of a viable industry that directly or indirectly supports 200,000 people”.
Professor Biman Prasad