FIJI SUGAR GROWERS HARD HIT BY STORM

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Crop damage estimated in tens of millions of dollars

SUVA, Fiji (Fijilive, Jan. 13, 2009) -- Growers Council (SCGC) estimates that damage to Fiji’s cane crop will run into tens of millions of dollars. And this, the council said, was already beyond what local resources could bear.

SCGC chief executive Surendra Sharma told Fijilive that at this stage, the council had not yet seen an end to the devastation of floodwaters and adverse weather conditions experienced so far in the Western Division.

However, he said if, as forecast, there was more flooding and expected strong winds occurred in the next few days, "the losses would be very, very substantial".

Yesterday, Sharma, his senior staff and some councillors visited the Lautoka and Rarawai districts and said they were overcome by the sad plight of cane farmers other rural dwellers in most of the sectors covered by these districts.

"The damage is currently largely through lodged cane (cane that falls or leans over), water-logged fields, silting, debris imported into the fields and the washing away of recently applied fertiliser," Sharma said.

"Should the fields remain water-logged, this will compound the damage. If strong winds strike, this could result in cane tops snapping and if this happens, the crop is a total write-off and nothing can be salvaged.

"Let’s pray there’s respite from the oncoming calamity because cane farmers have no crop or other insurance, and these are the poorest of the poor in Fiji and the very people that cannot afford any losses," he added.

Sharma said the resources required to fully compensate farmers from the loss and damages could not yet be quantified "but already the amounts are well beyond what local resources can bear".

Fijilive: http://www.fijilive.com

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