21% of Fiji's active sugarcane growers are below the age of 50 years while 79% are above the age of 50 years.
This has been highlighted by the Permanent Secretary for the Sugar Industry Yogesh Karan at the New Farmers Assistance Grant Signing ceremony.
Karan says during the peak period of the sugar industry, it used to have around 20,600 active sugarcane growers and this number has decreased to 11,676 active growers in 2016 which is a decline of around 8,900 active growers.
Meanwhile, 209 farmers have been assisted under the New Farmers Assistance Scheme, since it began in 2017.
Karan says the scheme is to entice new and young farmers to venture into sugarcane farming to address aging and declining number of sugarcane farmers.
Under this assistance, the Ministry of Sugar Industry meets the cost of lease acquisition (that is the amount stated in the offer letter from TLTB and Ministry of Lands) and also assists in establishing farms by providing free fertilizer and weedicides for a maximum of 5 acres of land in the first year only.
Ministry also provides a grant for land preparation and planting of sugarcane for a maximum of 5 acres through an ongoing program called Sugarcane Development and Farmers Assistance grant which is commonly known as Cane Planting Grant or CPG.
Karan says while the government is doing its part, he has urged the recipients to do their part by cultivating the idle land into productive sugarcane farms.
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