Cane burning is illegal in Fiji and discouraged by the Fiji Sugar Cooperation as it diminishes the cane quality. Reports say that Police are looking for people who are illegally burning sugarcane in Ba and Nadi areas which has caused around $55,000 in losses.
Cane burning prior to harvesting was a very regular practice in the past. It allowed for quick and less tiring harvesting, and of course less man power and financial burden on the cane farmers.
Cane quality and the safety of other nearby farms is of utmost importance however, farmers continue this practice. But from word on the ground, those farmers resorting to cane burning are often regarded as small scale farmers, those who cannot afford to hire the automated cane harvesting machines and often fall behind in their harvesting as the crushing season will soon come to an end.
As of last Friday there were a total of 342 setting fire to crop cases reported since the beginning of the crushing season and estimated to resulting in the loss of millions of dollars to the sugar industry.