23 Jun 2015

Fiji sugar cane farming needs incentives to attract youth

3:09 pm on 23 June 2015

The Fiji Cane Growers Association says in order to attract younger farmers, the government needs to step in and change the structure of the cane farming industry.

The General Secretary for the Association, Bala Dass, says the majority of the 12 thousand active sugar cane farmers are over 50 years old, and could be too old to farm in the next ten years.

But he says the younger generation has moved away from the cane industry so they can get paid weekly in white collar jobs.

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Photo: RNZ

Mr Dass says it's going to be a big job attracting young people back to sugar farming, and the structure needs to be changed.

"Such as, we get longer leases, leases for fifty years, or ninety nine years lease plus a cane payment system where they are paid in a short time period. Plus incentives like subsidies on fertilisers. Harvesting is the biggest problem cane farmers are facing because there is a shortage of labour. People who have left the sugar industry doing white collar jobs, it's very difficult to get them back in the industry."

Bala Dass says the most important change would be changing the payment system.