If Bainimarama/Khaiyum government declares DROUGHT then they need to come with a package and where will the funds come from?
CANEgrowers in the Western Division are calling on sugar industry stakeholders to carry out a detailed survey of farms to ascertain the damage caused by prolonged dry weather on cane crops.
This, after many plantations reported significant reduction in production because of dry weather conditions with some saying losses were as high as 25 per cent.
Fiji Cane Growers Association general secretary Bala Dass said while it was early days as yet, recent comments made by Fiji Sugar Corporation executive chairman Abdul Khan that more than two million tonnes would be processed this season was simply not achievable.
"Right now farmers are reporting crop reduction of up to 25 per cent and this is expected to increase if the dry weather continues into the harvesting and crushing season," he said.
"What we are saying is that if the trend continues then it is not possible to achieve the more than two million tonnes that Mr Khan has projected.
"One thing is for certain, it will be significantly less than that.
"We are not blaming him or the industry because nobody can predict or control the weather.
"What we are saying is that a proper analysis must be carried out and the correct information made public."
Nukuloa canegrower Arun Sharma said the situation for many growers was dire.
"I planted about 44 acres and was expecting to harvest more than 800 tonnes this season but I am looking at a figure between 600 and 700 tonnes and that is a huge loss in terms of income and planting costs as well," he said.
"Last year a lot of farms recorded losses but at least we received some rain in June. This year, we have not had any rain since March and the effect will be much worse."
Mr Sharma said the losses incurred by growers would be significant when taking into consideration the cane planting costs.
The expected reduction in total production will not augur well for an industry struggling to survive amidst global price volatility, escalating costs and poised for the end of preferential market access into the European Union come 2017.
Mr Khan said while 2.08million tonnes was the projected target, weather issues would determine the actual amount crushed during the 2015 season which is scheduled to end in November this year. Source: Fiji Times, 9 July 2015