THE Sugar Industry Tribunal has confirmed the final cane payment for sugarcane growers for last season's crop as 71cents.
Industrial commissioner Tim Brown made the announcement yesterday.
Fiji Sugar Corporation executive chairman Abdul Khan said while the payment could be viewed as significantly lower when compared with $6.37 paid out last season, growers had to understand that the fifth cane payment was traditionally low.
"The fourth cane payment is really the final cane payment per se and while political parties and industry critics will view this payment as extremely low in comparison to last year, there are a number of reasons this is so," he said.
"Last year we were able to make a lot more sugar than forecast and sell more as well,compared to this season where our actual make is closer to the forecast."
Mr Khan said in all fairness, growers should take into account the fact that the FSC took a $14million loan to top up the fourth cane payment.
"Our goal has always been to ensure that the actual cane payments allow growers to meet costs and earn enough to put food on their families' tables."
Despite the explanation by Mr Khan, Fiji Cane Growers Association general secretary and National Federation Party executive Bala Dass said news of the wash-up cane payment had sent shockwaves throughout the industry.
"This is a sad day for canegrowers in the country," he said.
"Nobody knew until 4pm today (yesterday) that the final cane payment was going to be this low and even when industry stakeholders knew, nobody bothered to inform growers.
"This is yet another indication of where canefarmers in this country are placed in terms of priority.
"Already growers are questioning their lack of involvement in the industry and this news will reduce the confidence of farmers even more."