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European Union Assistance For Sugar Sector

European Union Assistance For Sugar Sector
European Union
January 26
11:00 2017

The European Union has indicated it would provide an additional 11 million Euros (F$22.6m) assistance to the sugar sector.

This was announced yesterday by the Chairman of the Fiji Sugar Corporation Vishnu Mohan at a press conference in Lautoka.

He said this would come under the EDF11 Program through budget support.

“There are also possibilities that the EU would assist in the rehabilitation of farms affected by TC Winston,” Mr Mohan said.

Currently, EU is assisting the Sugar Sector under its Accompanying Measures for the Sugar Protocol (AMSP) Program.

One of the major programs under AMSP is the 13 million Euros project for the Rural Access Roads and Associated Infrastructure (RARAI) Project being implemented by the South Pacific Commission.

Over 200 kilometers of selected cane access roads and drainage systems in the Malolo and Drasa areas in Lautoka and Koronubu sectors in Ba would be rehabilitated between the 2017 and 2018 cane crushing season.

Meanwhile Mr Mohan said FSC was looking at hitting the 3million tonne mark by 2020.

 

Production

Cane Production for 2016 season was 1.39 million tonnes with a production of 140,000 tonnes of sugar compared to 1.86 million tonnes of cane and 222,000 tonnes of sugar in 2015.

The drop was attributed to damages caused by the prolonged drought which had prevailed for the third consecutive season and TC Winston.

“However, we are expecting the cane production for 2017 will be close to 2 million tonnes.”

Over 3,500 ha of cane have been planted in 2016 as December 31 with the assistance provided by Government as Cane Planting Grant.

 

Mechanical Harvesters

Government has allocated $2million for the purchase of Mechanical Harvesters to reduce harvest and transport cost.

The Ministry of Sugar Industry is currently inviting proposals from stakeholders including FSC, Sugar Cane Growers Fund, Cooperatives, Cane Producers Association and Individual farmers to decide on the best approach to effectively utilize these funds.

 

Cane Planting Grant (CPG)

In addition to $4.6m allocated in the 2016 budget, the Government has allocated an additional $9m in the 2016/17 budget for the CPG encourage Cane Farmers to plant cane.

Expression of Interest for the CPG was advertised on Fiji Sun on 14/1/2017.

The Cane Farmers can now apply for CPG to the Ministry of Sugar following the criteria set for the grant.  The CPG should be utilized properly.

 

Cane Access Roads

In 2016/17 budget, Government has allocated $3 million for the upgrading of Cane Access Roads to accelerate the transportation of cane to the mills.

The tender process for the selection of contractors would be made around March so that the cane access roads are ready before start of 2017 crush.

Annually, about 2,800 cane access roads measuring 3,800 km are maintained under this programme.

 

Mill Preparedness

The Penang Mill was destroyed by TC Winston and not in operation in 2016 crushing season.

The decision on whether or not to repair Penang Mill is yet to be made with Mr Mohan later indicating the decision would be made in the coming months.

“The production needs to increase to reach a target of 3 million by 2020.”

Based on the production level, a decision will have to be made whether to keep the four mills or to reduce the number.

 

Capital Projects

FSC had plans to implement four major capital projects as part of diversification strategy following the EU reforms.

The Cogeneration and Ethanol Plant projects in Rarawai, Sugar Refinery in Labasa and Syrup Mill in Penang are on hold.

Government is facilitating the independent review of the feasibility studies undertaken by FSC for transparency and to ascertain commercial viability.

 

Transportation

The transportation of harvested cane from Penang mill areas to Rarawai Mill for crushing will continue in 2017 season.

“I am aware of the need this year to have this cane transported directly from the farms to Rarawai Mill to avoid dumping at Penang Mill yard and double-handling, which is not only costly, but contributes to poor quality sugar.”

For the 2016 season FSC is finalizing its submission for consideration by Government.

The Penang Mill Bridge is expected to be repaired before the crushing begins in 2017.

 

TC Winston, February 2016

TC Winston damages to the sugar industry totaled to FJD$163.6 million.

Damages were caused to the Mills, Research Facilities, houses and farm structures of cane farmers, transportation infrastructure and over 45% (19,000 hectares) of crop damages in all the sectors of Rarawai, Penang and two sectors in Lautoka.

 

TD04 Flood Damages, December 2016

The flooding as a result of TD04 caused a total of $3.5 million damages in Rakiraki and Tavua cane farming areas mainly to prepared land ready for planting, planted cane, ratoon crops, cane access roads and Penang mill infrastructure.

Government will look into possible way of assisting those farmers affected by the flood and TC Winston with fertilizer and weedicide inputs.

 

Edited by: Kathrin Krishna

Feedback:  charles.chambers@fijisun.

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