1 Apr 2010

Cane farmers in Fiji upset over low payments says union leader

10:34 am on 1 April 2010

A political and union leader in Fiji says cane farmers are angry their latest payment is less than half what they were expecting.

The leader of the Fiji Labour Party and general secretary of National Farmers Union, Mahendra Chaudhry, says the payment of two US dollars and 61 cents per tonne, is far below the six dollars and 22 cents that was expected.

Mr Chaudhry says the poor performance is a result of frequent breakdowns at the mills, which led to wasted cane, with much of the juice not being converted into sugar.

He says it's the first time the Fiji Sugar Corporation has failed to make its forecast payment, and they are considering seeking compensation for farmers.

"The possibility is being looked at at the moment, but the industry institutions on which farmers had a voice they have all been disbanded by the interim regime. So farmers actually are without a voice at the moment in the industry, which again is a matter of concern because technically they have a 70 percent stake in the industry."

Mahendra Chaudhry says the 180 million dollars in aid from the European Union, which the industry lost through ongoing sanctions, would have been a godsend for sugar farmers.