National Farmers Union General Secretary Mahendra Chaudhry has labelled as a gross breach of trust the reduction in government guaranteed cane price from $85 a tonne to $70.
Chaudhry said government has reneged on a promise it made to the farmers during the 2018 general election campaign to pay a guaranteed cane price of $85 a tonne for the next three years until 2021.
Chaudhry said cane farmers are the only group being penalized under this Budget and warned that the reduced price will make cane farming financially unsustainable.
At $15 a tonne less, growers are being short changed by as much as $28 million based on the forecast of 1.8 million tonnes of cane for the 2020 season.
“It is ironical that the Minister for Economy is prepared to pay $60 million to entice tourists to Fiji at the rate of $400 per visitor for the first 150,000, but deprives our own farmers of what they were promised.
“This is gross injustice and shows once again Minister Sayed-Khaiyum’s priorities away from agriculture towards the tourism industry.”
NFU will write to the Prime Minister and Minister for Sugar requesting that the guaranteed minimum price be reverted to $85 a tonne as promised by the government.
Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum announced the reduction in last night’s budget adding all other support to cane growers will continue.
Once larger economic recovery gets underway, the bottom-line of our cane growers will be among our first priorities.