Debate over cane – Fiji Times

THERE was a heated exchange yesterday between Labasa canefarmers, lorry drivers and Sugar Industrial Commissioner Timothy Brown over the billeting of mechanically and manually harvested cane in the mill. Farmers had even gone as far boycotting the meeting after they were told that the condition regulating the billeting of cane supply to the mills was decided by the Sugar Industry Tribunal. They told Mr Brown yesterday that the drivers of lorries bearing manually cut cane waited long hours at the mill while those with mechanically-harvested cane spent only about one-and-a-half hours before their cane was received by the mill.

Tabia farmer and cane lorry driver Pravin Chand claimed manually harvested cane owners would arrive at the mill at 6pm and leave at 6am the next day as they waited patiently for their cane to be tipped at the mill. Mr Chand said farmers were concerned that they were not given the same consideration as farmers whose cane were harvested mechanically. “In the past the mill used to give priority to lorries carrying mechanically harvested cane, so we are now wanting every lorry driver to be treated equally and fairly and for all lorries to have only one queue,” he said.

“Therefore if drivers of manually harvested cane lorries will have to wait for long, their counterparts will have to go through the same experience too.” Another farmer Satend Prasad of Vunimoli said the Fiji Sugar Corporation was given seven and a half months to ready the mill but they failed to achieve this and this was the reason farmers were suffering. Responding to these concerns, Mr Brown said if both mechanically and manually harvested cane were given only one queue, FSC was concerned that it would not be able to fill its carrier.

Mr Brown said farmers had agreed yesterday to control the billeting of cane trucks in the mill despite being told that FSC was the best to know since it was aware of the best operating conditions of the mill.


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