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SUVA, Fiji Islands (September 1, 1998 - PACNEWS)---Fiji's sugar cane farmers, whose crops were devastated by a prolonged drought, are going to receive cash assistance totaling $F 8 million ($US 3.7 million) from the Cane Growers Fund.

Loans will be paid out early this month, although no exact dispersal date has been set. Banks have been informed by the government not to charge interest.

Fund chairman Gerald Barrack said about 50 percent of the country's 21,000 cane farmers are expected to receive about F$ 400 ($US 190) each. The $US 3.7 million will be recovered from the grower’s crop proceeds over the next five years.

Meanwhile, the leader of Fiji's National Federation Party, Jai Ram Reddy, in a reaction to the announcement, said the farmers need to realize that they are not getting cash grants as hoped, but a loan which they will have to repay.

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