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‘Fund lent $10 million last year’

The Sugar Cane Growers Fund lent $10 million last year, says chief executive officer Raj Sharma.

He said the COVID-19 pandemic failed to dampen growers’ commitment to developing the industry.

“It was the highest ever loan approvals recorded by the fund for a number of years,” he said.

Mr Sharma said the fund approved 1349 loan applications with a total value of $5.228 million from January to July 31 this year.

“That was 82 per cent of our target.

“We did record a low number of loan applications for the month of May this year, mainly because of the restrictions that were in place during the emergence of a second wave of COVID-19 when containment areas were subsequently erected at Momi in Sigatoka to Lomolomo, Lautoka.

“Transportation became an issue for the canefarmers.”

He said farmers from Ba showed a strong interest in the industry. ”

Most of the loans were from Ba, which totalled $1.261 million.

“The cane farmers in the Northern Division also showed their continued commitment in the industry with $1.064 million in loans approved for Labasa while Seaqaqa recorded $0.712 million in actual borrowings.”