Cane farmers demand better rates
THE EDITOR, Sir:
I AM a farmer in Westmoreland and I have a concern with regard to our production under Chinese management. We aren't getting a good price on our cane payments. They have gradually been reduced from $2,600 per tonnes to $865, and some farmers get $500 and less per tonne.
We have to sustain the farm by buying costly chemicals. One jug of chemical costs more than $26,000; some are even more expensive. Fertiliser costs more than $4,000. When we receive $600 per second payment, and when the cost of chemicals and fertilisers is deducted, we are left with little to no money. Grass and debris have now become the cane field's best friend, because we are unable to weed them out and prepare the land for fresh cultivation.
I speak on behalf of the farmers in Westmoreland and Hanover, as we are crying out for help. Grappling with the Chinese takeover, several tonnes of cane go up in flames every year. Some farmers gain nothing. Why is it that cane farmers are not regarded equally when sugar export is deemed very crucial to the country's economy?
When the cocoa, banana and coffee farmers lose their produce, they are compensated $30,000 per acre. We need better prices to sustain the industry.