Bring Back Rail. Beware Unions. Sugar Thoughts.
There is a real and increasing demand for cane cutters who are increasingly becoming fewer in numbers.
Cane crushing season is here again and once again issues that have plagued this industry for some time now will resurface. One issue that farmers have been grappling with has of course been transportation. Yesteryears mode of transporting cane through the railways is something that needs to make a comeback, a growing number of farmers are saying. For too long our railways were neglected as using lorries became favoured. In today’s “green” world it makes environmental sense to look again at rail. Farmers have made the point too that in some areas rail is far more efficient and cost effective than either lorries or tractors. Some say that proper use of rail also lifts the consistency of the supply to keep the mills crushing.
Investing in rail again will lift a burden, vocal farmers have pointed out. Financially and environmentally rail seems to need to be higher on the agenda. Another issue that cane farmers of today are facing is the lack of cane cutters. Not many people these days want to labour long hours in the scorching heat cutting cane. There is a real and increasing demand for cane cutters who are increasingly becoming fewer in numbers. Perhaps more farmers need to become savvy now and seriously consider Fiji Sugar Corporation’s efforts to introduce mechanical cane harvesters. This would be one less financial burden for our farmers. The Fiji Corrections Services has come to the assistance of many farmers by getting inmates into farms to cut cane. A worthy initiative that needs to be praised. But farmers need to start considering other options as well. Another thing that will come up as we head into the cutting season is the reappearance of the National Farmers Union holding pocket meetings with farmers. The union has been around for awhile now. Farmers need to be wary of the agenda that it has. It has been such outfits who politicised our sugar industry to begin with.
The good news is the first mill to start crushing, Labasa, is already a success story in many ways. Hope is that the same success comes to other mills in the coming days as they begin crushing.