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SUVA. Fiji (Fiji Times, May 22) – More than 500 sugar cane farmers in Fiji’s Northern Division have resolved to boycott the harvest for 2005 until the Land Transport Authority gives an assurance that lorry and tractor drivers will not be harassed.

Crushing for the year is scheduled to start on June 1.

The decision was taken at the National Farmers Union annual general meeting in Labasa yesterday.

Union general secretary Mahendra Chaudhry said cane growers in the division had joined colleagues on Viti Levu in the resolution to boycott the 2005 harvest until the LTA issue was resolved.

The meeting heard cane farmers and other rural dwellers were frustrated and angry by the attitude of what they called "corrupt LTA officials".

"It is making life difficult for them, creating problems in taking their produce to the markets and to the mills," Chaudhry said.

Cane farmers told the meeting they had been protesting against the harassment at several public rallies and a number of meetings had been held with LTA and the minister responsible.

Authority North general manager Isoa Tamani said there was no outstanding issue with NFU.

"We resolved the issue with NFU last week about waiving of the surrendering of number plates during the off-season," Mr Tamani said. "The NFU should also be clear when they say that LTA officials were harassing them."

May 23, 2005

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