Bulldoze threat | Minister warns ‘cheating’ cane farmers

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Sugar Minister Charan Jeath Singh is followed by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Trade, Co-operatives, Small and Medium Enterprises and Communications Manoa Kamikamica at Parliament, on Mon 20 Nov 2023. Picture: ATU RASEA

Sugar Minister Charan Jeath Singh has threatened to bulldoze the cane fields of growers who produce and transport “unwanted varieties of cane to the mill”.

He said this after the Fiji Sugar Corporation’s Labasa mill failed to hit its 630,000-tonne target this season.

Mr Singh said climate change, farmers planting the wrong variety of crop and not enough incentives for growers were key reasons cane processed at the mill totalled only 555,000 tonnes this year, a decline of 75,000 tonnes.

“However, I cannot compare this year’s results to previous years — I can’t say this is the lowest,” the minister said.

Mr Singh said the decline in production was caused by a number of key reasons.

“Farmers were not given a push due to the poor incentives sugarcane farmers were given.

“Also the substantial amount of burnt cane played a role in the quantity of sugar produced.

“It diminishes land productivity and contributes to the decline in sugarcane production.”

He said some farmers in Seaqaqa were not planting cane varieties approved by the sugar industry.

“It (the variety being planted) is heavy but does not have the content of sugar needed.

“We have identified all these farms and we have advised farmers not to plant this particular variety of sugar.

“We will give farmers one warning if they continue we will bulldoze their farm. Also, we have told them to uproot this variety of cane. They cannot continue to be cheating. Enough is enough.”