Drop in number of cane growers

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Sugar cane farmers harvesting cane at their farm. Picture: FT FILE

The number of active sugarcane growers reduced from 20,524 to 10,872 over the past 25 years.

Fiji Sugar Corporation (FSC) chairman Pradeep Lal said this was a decrease of more than 47 per cent.

“Over the course of the past 25 years, it is worth noting that only on four occasions did the yield exceed the 50 tonnes per hectare (TpHa) threshold,” Mr Lal said.

“Concurrently, there has been over 50 per cent reduction in area under cane from 73,312 hectares, along with a corresponding decrease in active farmers from 20,524 to 10,872, a decrease of over 47 per cent.

“FSC remains adamant and focused that the TpHa from 47 to 55 is an attainable goal, which will give an incremental gain of 280,000 tonnes of cane from an area of 35,000 hectares.

“The average cane yield per grower has remained relatively constant at approximately 150 tonnes —a level that has been consistent over the past 25 years.”

He said FSC was actively promoting and supporting growers in adopting the best farming practices.

“To facilitate this, the corporation has expanded the field staffing to provide comprehensive education to growers about the highly effective ratoon management program.

“These efforts have yielded tangible results, with per-hectare improvements positively impacting the financials through implementing contemporary farming methodologies and innovative technologies to enhance agricultural productivity.

“The immediate outcome of this became evident last season when a noteworthy increase in yield, measured in tonnes per hectare was observed.

“The yield escalated from 42 in the previous season to 47 in the last season from an area of 34,89ha with around 10,872 active farmers.

“This has been achievable despite many challenges faced by the growers.”

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