Labour Leader and NFU general secretary Mahendra Chaudhry undertook an extensive tour of cyclone stricken areas of Labasa over the week-end.
He met with over 500 people in 12 different locations in the Daku, Wainikoro, Vunimoli, Bucaisau, Labasa and Wailevu (cane) sectors.
Mr Chaudhry was in Labasa to assess the extent of devastation to houses and crops in these sectors which took the full brunt of Cyclone Tomas.
“Damage to cane and other crops is quite extensive. Many homes in the affected areas have also been partially or totally destroyed. The cyclone has struck at a time when farmers were already reeling from the ill-effects of a disastrous cane crushing season which has caused financial hardship to almost all of them,” said Mr Chaudhry.
Preliminary assessments carried out by NFU officials in Labasa indicate that the 2010 cane crop will be 25% below last year’s low crop size of around 630,000 tonnes. It is to be noted that in its heyday Labasa Mill used to crush around 1.1 million tonnes of cane!
“The figures speak for themselves. That is the sad state of the industry today under a totally misguided leadership in the Sugar Ministry and the FSC,” said one long time and respected cane farmer.
Meanwhile, no State assistance has as yet reached the affected farmers who claim that officials have not visited them and they have not been given any information as to what type of assistance they can expect.
The Naikelikoso Primary School in Daku suffered extensive structural damage
Family in Vunimoli, Labasa who had lost their home in the cyclone (above) and below: Labour MP Mohammed Tahir pictured with cane farmer who lost the entire roof of his house in Vunimoli