The farming community has been most hard hit by the ravage caused by Cyclone Mick and the Fiji Labour Party has called for a State rehabilitation programme to begin the recovery process.
“A preliminary survey in the Western and Central Divisions has confirmed that sugar, vegetables and root crops were severely damaged.
“In the greater Lautoka area about 120 houses lost their roofs while most temporary structures in the rural areas were completely or substantially destroyed,” said FLP Leader Mahendra Chaudhry.
Former FLP MPs have carried out quick surveys of their respective constituencies and have filed reports with the FLP headquarters.
“The farming community needs to be provided with immediate assistance. A crop rehabilitation programme (CRP), adequately funded, should be launched soonest to begin the recovery process,” Mr Chaudhry said.
“Most of the unharvested cane has been completely flattened in the Lautoka and Rarawai Mill areas while the standing ratoons have been badly damaged,” he said.
National Farmers Union officials have confirmed that unless a CRP is launched immediately, the prospects for the 2010 season look grim.
“As it is, the 2009 crop is well below that of 2008. The industry cannot survive on cane production of around 2 million tonnes. Chronic milling problems have resulted in absolutely abysmal extraction rate, driving sugar production to record low levels,” said Udit Narayan, former MP and secretary of the Lautoka Branch of the National Farmers Union.
Likewise, vegetable and root crop farmers are also in a sorry state after the cyclone devastated most of their crops. Wind and water damage has been extensive and these farmers will need to be assisted by way of supply of seeds and seedlings, fertiliser and pesticides.
So far no announcement has been made by the State about how it intends to assist the farmers and others who have suffered damage or losses as a result of the cyclone.