The Fiji Cane Growers Council has expressed outrage at the umbrella body looking after farmers, for not telling the truth about why the Penang Mill still hasn't started crushing.
The Council's general secretary, Bala Dass, says cane farmers in the Penang Mill area should not start harvesting until the mill is fully repaired and an audit carried out to certify the state of preparedness of the mill
The Fiji Sugar Corporation chief executive Deo Sharan has blamed farmers, for not supplying enough cane for the mill to start crushing.
But Mr Dass said that on Friday, there was about 850 tonnes of cane supplied to the mill, more than the 800 tonnes required for the mill to start crushing.
He said since this morning, more than 1200 tonnes of cane was in the mill yard, either stockpiled, or laden on cane lorries and rail trucks waiting to be crushed.
Mr Dass said the truth is that the mill is suffering from serious mechanical defects and farmers were not told that a trial run done before the start of the crush failed.
He said the mill’s boiler is defective and cannot ignite due to lack of quality fuel.
"This warrants a serious investigation into the mill upgrade programme, for which funds were sourced from Exim Bank of India by the former government."
"Given this scenario, farmers are advised not to harvest unless industry authorities give an unequivocal guarantee through a certified audit that the mill is ready. Already farmers who have supplied 1200 tonnes of cane are incurring losses because the quality of harvested crop is deteriorating daily," Mr Dass said.
The mill’s crushing was deferred from last Tuesday May 19 to Thursday May 21.
On Saturday morning, FSC said harvesting had to be ceased because of torrential downpour.