Canegrower claims “there is lack of focus”

Jerry Nalivono (front) with Amani Dokona and Apakuki Bainivalu brave the rain while loading cane at Koronubu, Ba. Picture: BALJEET SINGH

PROMINENT canegrower Arun Sharma claims there is a lack of focus by political parties on addressing key issues affecting the sugar industry.

The Moto, Ba, farmer said in the lead up to the 2022 General Election, some political parties were talking about increasing the guaranteed cane price, but much more was needed.

“So far, only two political parties have said things like offering a new cane payment if they come into power,” he said.

“But what we want to see is some decisive action plans that can bring up the industry.

“Giving a new cane payment is not the only way out of our problems. They have to think about introducing new policies and amend the current Sugar Industry Master Award.

“For me, the Master Award is very old and needs to be changed. It has been there since Ratu Mara’s time and it is no longer relevant.”

He also claimed very few people standing in this year’s polls have a clear understanding of the sugar industry.

“From what I have seen so far in terms of the candidates in the main parties, not a lot of people really understand the industry.

“There are only a handful of people who are good representatives of canefarmers and can take our issues to Parliament if they are elected.

“I hope parties come up with clear plans that will help farmers.

“They have to be able to understand our issues and work with us to improve the industry.

” Political parties that have articulated plans to revamp the industry, as per their manifestos, include the Unity Fiji party, The People’s Alliance and the Fiji Labour Party.

Unity Fiji said they would boost the cane price to $110 per tonne while the Fiji Labour Party said it would increase the price to $102 per tonne.

The People’s Alliance said it would undertake a strategic restructure of the industry to allow it to increase production and efficiency.

While the National Federation Party has not released its manifesto yet, the party had previously called for the formation of a select Parliamentary committee on sugar to address issues plaguing the industry.

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