Labour Leader Mahendra Chaudhry was chief guest at the closing session of the week-long Farmers Carnival at Lautoka on Saturday evening.
The Carnival, run by the National Farmers Union, is an annual event staged to raise funds for needy school children.
Addressing the crowd just before the crowning ceremony, Mr Chaudhry spoke on the rise of poverty from about 35% in 2006 to the current level of 45% and asked what was causing this increase.
He was critical of Vodafone refusing to sponsor this year’s event despite being its major sponsor in the past. He urged big business interests to step forward to assist the noble cause undertaken by the carnival.
The carnival began as a fund raising event to provide educational funds for the children of thousands of cane farming families displaced at the non-renewal of their leases in 2001/2002.
It has since broadened its scope to take in all needy children.
Carnival organizer Udit Narayan said he was pleased that the Carnival had achieved its target for the year despite the lack of a major sponsor. People’s support had been tremendous, he said.