30 Sep 2003

Fiji's Farmers Union asks for grants to help cane farmers survive the drought

6:34 am on 30 September 2003

Fiji's National Farmer's Union has asked the Government to provide a cash grant of four US dollars per tonne to cane farmers who have had their crops substantially reduced as a result of the prolonged drought.

Radio Fiji reports that the union general secretary, Mahendra Chaudhry, has written to the chairman of the Sugar Commission, Gerald Barrack, and the Minister for Agriculture, Jonetani Galuinadi, on the issue.

Mr Chaudhry says apart from the cash grant, they have also asked for a crop rehabilitation programme for next year to meet Fiji's sugar export commitments.

He says the drought has reduced the crop this year by half a million tonnes to two point seven million tonnes.

Mr Chaudhry says urgent help is needed because this crop shortfall will result in a serious reduction in the incomes of farmers, cane cutters and agricultural workers.