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01 Aug 1998 description

The worst drought in the nation's history is occurring with dry conditions since last October. 28,000 households are affected, especially in the western Viti Levu sugar cane areas. It is expected that 10% of sugar producers will harvest no sugar this season and another 30% will have significantly reduced harvests. The sugar industry is expected to lose at least $US49 million in earnings this year. To help with the situation, Australia is donating $US 72,000 in emergency assistance to affected families for food and clothing. The drought is expected to last at least through August.