National Farmers Union is questioning FSC’s delay in making the 4th cane payment which should have been paid out at the end of April.
NFU President Surendra Lal says the payment must be made this week if growers are to begin preparations for harvesting.
The Labasa Mill is scheduled to start the 2017 crushing season on 1 June but farmers do not have the funds to begin preparations for harvesting.
“Why is there a delay in payment? Does FSC not have the money to pay the farmers? Under the Master Award the 4th cane payment should be made four weeks before the start of the mill.
“There has been no explanation from FSC to explain the delay. Growers are getting very frustrated with the lack of communication from the Corporation,” Mr Lal said.
“We all know that FSC is facing serious financial problems. But it is understood that early this year, it took another advance from Tate & Lyle of $US10m against the 2017 sugar shipment.
“It should have at least $F20m and should be able to meet the 4th payment,” Mr Lal said.
Mr Lal said growers were already upset at being told that the 4th payment would be below $10 a tonne. They have called for a $20 a tonne payment to be able to meet the very high cost of preparing for harvest.
“We know that FSC does not have the money for a $20 a tonne payout. That is why NFU has called for government to subsidise the 4th cane payment to bring it up to $20 a tonne,” Mr Lal said.
Meanwhile, he questioned a statement by Sugar Permanent Secretary Yogesh Karan that the Prime Minister intends to meet with growers this week to “ put a rest to speculation and rumours surrounding issues” in the industry.
“The ground realities in the industry are there for all to see. Growers are unhappy and frustrated because they are not receiving their payments on time, costs of cultivating, harvesting and transporting cane have sky-rocketed but payments are too low costs, and FSC does not bother to communicate with the farmers on crucial matters relating to them.”
“Growers’ deep dissatisfaction with the manner in which the industry is being run came through very clearly at the third round of consultations on the Sugar Industry Bills.
“Cane farmers do not want any more propaganda from the PM. He wants to talk, he talks to the growers’ true representatives, the unions,” Mr Lal said.