13 Jul 2015

Fijian labour shortage affects cane harvest

2:01 pm on 13 July 2015

Many Fijian cane farmers are unable to harvest their stock due to a shortage of labour.

The National Farmers Union says getting enough labourers has been an industry problem for a while but its worst effects are being felt now.

The union's general secretary, Mahendra Chaudhry, says the four mills started operating over the last month, but a labour shortage may handicap them right through the season.

He says many former workers have got other jobs as they find the work unattractive and he says it's a serious problem.

"As of now some 30 to 35 percent of harvesting gangs are not operative because of a labour shortage. There has been a reduction in the number of people wanting to harvest cane and I suppose we are seeing the worst effect of it now and this is seriously going to affect the sugar industry in the coming years."

Mahendra Chaudhry says it will cost farmers who will have to stall operations but still meet the costs of their existing labour force.

A villager in the cane fields near Lautoka, Fiji

A villager in the cane fields near Lautoka, Fiji Photo: RNZI / Sally Round