Unknown to most cane farmers and even their leaders, a seven-member Taskforce comprising of members of the interim regime, the military, Fiji Sugar Corporation and the Sugar Cane Growers Council, has been formed to ensure there are no hiccups to the start of crushing for the 2009 season.
However, the Taskforce has already failed in its core objective due to the problems faced by the Penang mill in Rakiraki.
The mill, scheduled to start crushing on Tuesday 19th May, has not started crushing, seven days after its scheduled start of crush.
A minor component of the delay has been bad weather but most of the blame for the delay is due to mill efficiency and preparedness. This is the major area which the Taskforce was supposed to address.
The second major objective of the Taskforce is to ensure no disruption to crushing by farmers who are required to harvest cane on time. Sources in the cane belts have told us that the Taskforce visits each mill every three to four days.
The following people are on the 7 member Taskforce:
Jo Waqabaca – Agriculture Ministry (Team Leader)
Lt-Col Delana – army officer
Seru Vularika – General Manager Field Services
Kalasito – Principal Agriculture Officer
Sanjay – Sugar Research Institute of Fiji
Vinesh Kumar – Ministry of Sugar (interim PM’s office)
Sundresh Chetty – General Manager Operations – Sugar Cane Growers Council