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Fiji Rice Industry collapsing

Fiji Rice Industry collapsing

Sun, 11 Feb 2001 09:58:56 +1200

PEOPLE'S COALITION GOVERNMENT, FIJI Issue No: 468 11 February 2001

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Rice Industry collapsing

The country's rice industry is collapsing rapidly.

Today's Sunday Times reports that rice farmers are now no longer planting rice because the state owned Rewa Rice company is not paying them a price which can sustain the industry. It says that farmers were paid $400 per tonne of rice, then the price fell to $350, then to $300, and now it stands at $200. "They stopped purchasing our rice almost six months ago", said a farmer. But Rewa Rice says it is still paying farmers $250 per tonne.

The People's Coalition Government had undertaken to rehabilitate the rice industry. This had attracted massive criticism from a rice milling company owned by businessman Hari Punja. The company reportedly has interests of some who are now in Qarase's cabinet. The company made huge gains when the Rabuka regime deregulated the rice industry. Cheap rice from Asian nations and Australia flooded the market squeezing out local producers. A major irrigation project in Lakena collapsed, with farmers leaving to search for cash employment in urban areas. Over 30,000 people in Fiji, mostly ethnic Indians, still depend on the rice industry for a livelihood.

The Qarase regime stopped the plan to rehabilitate the industry.


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