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Increased demand for cane farmland

The COVID-19 crisis has pushed an increasing number of working class people into cane farming.

This was the word from Sugar Cane Growers Fund (SCGF) chief executive officer Raj Sharma.

He said a lot of working class people had invested part of their Fiji National Provident Fund (FNPF) savings and taken loans from the SCGF to purchase land for cane farming.

“There is a huge demand for cane farms with us,” he said.

“And the demand is mostly from the working class people who accessed their FNPF.

“They are looking for land and they have found that there is potential to start their own farms.”

Mr Sharma said most of the new applicants were from the tourism sector.

“We have seen interest coming in from Nadi and Lautoka areas, in fact we have had resort workers and even teachers. In fact, our first applicant from the Northern Division was an applicant who worked in a hotel in Labasa.”

He added that the criteria for each applicant was made clear before any loan was issued. “Firstly, they have to ensure their land is productive.

“We don’t necessarily have an age limit because they can always go into a joint loan with their children.

“So it is very encouraging to see these new applicants, especially from our working class.”

In October last year, the SCGF and FNPF announced a new scheme to encourage FNPF members to invest in cane farming.