14 Nov 2012

Only subsidies will stop haemorrhage of Fiji sugar farmers: economist

1:57 pm on 14 November 2012

A Fiji economics professor says the only way to stop more farmers leaving the sugar industry is for the interim government to increase subsidies.

The comment follows a prediction from the National Farmers Union that the amount of sugar cane crushed this season will be the lowest on record.

The body says the number of cane growers has halved over the past 20 years, from about 23,000 to 12,000.

Biman Prasad, who is based at the University of the South Pacific's Suva campus, says the interim government must look seriously at how to support those farmers.

"And how their income level could be maintained by lowering the cost of production. And, in fact, to save the industry, government will have to seriously consider giving subsidies to the farmers who are still there."

Biman Prasad says the interim government must also consider amalgamating farms because the current system of smallholdings is not profitable.