The South Pacific island of Fiji is suffering from a massive drought. The sugarcane crop of 1998 is well below normal production. Even the torrential rains due to La Nina, which lashed Australia, have stayed away from Fiji. "We were hoping that La Nina could come and bring some rain but the drought is continuing," said managing director of the state-owned Fiji sugar corporation, Jonetani Galuinadi, A break in drought is not expected to assist the present crop but may help next year's crop.

Sugar is Fiji's second largest industry after tourism and is considered to be the backbone of its economy. The government fears that sugarcane harvest and crush, which usually runs till December, would finish by October this year.

The drought, considered to be the effect of the El Nino whether effect, which also caused drought and famine in parts of Papua New Guiea and Indonesia in 1997 and early 1998. El Nino is now fading away from Australia, giving way to its opposite effect, La Nina. It is believed that the recent heavy rains and floods in eastern Australia have resulted from the fading of El Nino.

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