Struggling Farmers: The Bitter Reality

Rakiraki businessman and former politician George Shiu Raj has expressed that farmers are increasingly frustrated by the recurrent breakdowns at the Lautoka Sugar Mill. He believes that the Fiji Sugar Corporation (FSC) should ensure the efficient crushing of cane during the crushing season.

“Government has allocated millions of dollars for the repair and maintenance of the Lautoka sugarcane mill,” stated Mr. Shiu Raj. He added that the Rarawai Mill in Ba is also facing issues, leaving lorry drivers waiting for up to 36 hours outside the mill. He sees this as a significant problem and insists that farmers will not supply sugarcane to the mill until it is properly fixed.

“Farmers are being reduced to the state of beggars, and whenever we send trucks to the mill, we are told the mill has a breakdown. This is unacceptable. The government has done its part, but the current issue in the sugar industry lies with the mills,” he asserted.

Responding to these concerns, FSC Chief Executive Officer Bhan Pratap Singh acknowledged that the Lautoka mill did experience some initial issues at the start of the crushing season. However, he assured that the mill is now operational. “We have addressed the concerns, and the mill is operating at the required capacity. We are committed to resolving issues raised by farmers and ensuring the smooth operation of the mill for the benefit of all stakeholders,” said Mr. Singh.

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