The Sugar Cane Growers Fund has offered loans and refunds to cane farmers as a form of assistance during the impending harvesting season.
Fund chief executive officer Raj Sharma said the move was part of a pre-harvesting loan promotion to assist farmers in their harvest.
“We also have farmers who may not qualify under the guidelines for these loans,” Mr Sharma said.
“For those who do not qualify, we refund them the cane payment.
“In this case, it involves loan repayments made during the last cane payment in May.”
Mr Sharma said disqualified farmers who did not qualify will have their money refunded on a case by case basis.
“We want to assist them in preparing for the harvesting season and especially now during this coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis.”
The promotion is carried out annually to ensure an uninterrupted harvest, he said.
Fiji Sugar Corporation
Fiji Sugar Corporation chief executive officer Graham Clark noted an improvement in sugar cane harvest at the Labasa sugar mill this year.
Speaking at the opening of this year’s crushing season in Labasa, Mr Clark said: “We have seen that the harvesting gangs in Labasa have been better mobilised this year, although cane supply for the opening was slow.”
He said delay in supply was the trend with all mills at the beginning of the season, as gangs held back until the mill was fully operational. Each crushing season usually began with teething problems as the whole mill lay idle for six months while maintenance work was carried out.
“However the present sugar content was still below the average sugar content recorded for the last five years,” Mr Clark said.
Rarawai and Lautoka mills
Meanwhile, the Rarawai and Lautoka mills were gearing up for their seasons as maintenance work was rounded off.
“We will have the other two mills ready by the start dates,” Mr Clark said.
Crushing at the Rarawai Mill in Ba begins on June 23 while Lautoka commences the following day.