Fiji’s sugar cane farmers have been offered nearly $US5 million in government assistance to help them recover from Cyclone Winston.

The Economy Minister Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum has announced the farmers will not have to pay the normal deductions due for land and fertiliser costs when they receive their next payment on Friday.

The government will also pay off the $US473 individual loans of about four thousand farmers that had been taken out after the cyclone.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said the announcement showed the government was committed to fundamental change in the sugar industry.

“This is not by way of a loan, this is by way of a grant to ensure that the cane farmers actually are able to have enough funds to be able to deploy as much funds as possible for the next cane season, to ensure they have enough funds for their planting and of course for themselves,” said Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum.

He said it required an apolitical approach.

“We would like to again appeal to the farmers that here is a government again assisting you. Do not get misled by people making false promises, people who are building castles in the sky, without having any note of reality.”

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum also accused some politicians and media of whipping up a frenzy over the sugar cane growers’ problems.