13 Jul 2015

Fiji cane growers call for drastic action over lack of staff

5:22 pm on 13 July 2015

Fiji cane growers say more farmers will leave the industry if the government doesn't step in and help.

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Photo: RNZ

Part of one of the country's largest industries, cane farmers are facing labour shortages as they enter this year's harvest with many having to postpone.

Each year around 15-thousand labourers are required to help harvest cane.

However the National Farmers Union estimates up to 40 percent of the county's harvesting gangs don't have enough staff.

The general secretary for the Fiji Cane Growers Association, Bala Dass, says it is thousands of people short and the government needs to do more to help.

"If something drastic is not done, especially for harvesting, then I can say more farmers will leave the industry. That's what we are saying. If these problems are not looked at or these problems are not solved then in five years time I can tell you that it's going to be very difficult for this industry to survive."

Bala Dass says the problem would be solved if an independent corporation managed the harvest on a contractual basis.