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A Lot of Interest in Our Sugar: A-G

A Lot of Interest in Our Sugar: A-G
Attorney-General and Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum talking to the Fiji Fuel Retailers Association in Nadi on August 1, 2017. See report at bottom of this page. Photo: DEPTFO News
August 02
11:00 2017

Attorney-General and Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said yesterday there was a lot of interest from countries and private buyers for Fijian sugar.

But, he added, they would only sell to those who offered the best prices.

Government has been, through the Fiji Sugar Corporation chairperson Vishnu Mohan and chief executive officer Graham Clark, looking at alternative markets for Fijian sugar with a better pricing.

European Union Ambassador to Fiji and the Pacific Andrew Jacobs said as Fiji’s sugar was concerned, private companies purchased the sugar for European countries under the present arrangement.

“As far as I know Fiji’s sugar for this year is secure but as for next year I guess negotiations have not yet begun.”

Mr Jacobs said he had not heard anything yet from any of the member countries in the EU on the 2018 crop.

Meanwhile, Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said Government had provided $60 million in the Budget to the sugarcane industry with a major portion of that directed towards farmers to help them reduce their cost of production.

He made the comments following a meeting of the Accompanying Measures for the Sugar Protocol (AMSP) programme at the First Landing Resort in Lautoka yesterday.

“This assistance by Government is a direct understanding of what the farmer’s needs are and in reducing costs this would make cane farming a lot more attractive where there would be a lot more profit for farmers.”

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said the reason for bringing all the stakeholders together was to see if there were cases of over-lapping in different programmes, this could be streamlined and help them focus on their respective strengths.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said EU through this programme had financed over $160 million by way of training sugar industry personnel and cane farmers, providing road infrastructure, rural electrification and helping rebuild following Tropical Cyclone Winston.

“The programme was implemented by agencies other than government agencies.”

He said there had been areas of concern but those have now been addressed.

This included providing livelihood through alternative sources of income for cane farmers, he said.

Mr Jacobs said the meeting was to review the EU-Fiji co-operation in the sugar sector and it heard of some of the success and challenges of the ongoing programmes and looking forward to the future.

“This is going to be a challenging time for Fiji sugar particularly when the EU quota comes to an end in October this year,” he said.

“Fiji sugar will be competing on a more open market and this has helped to concentrate and ensure that we focus our discussions on the competitiveness of the industry so that Fiji sugar does have a rosy future.

“I want to put on record how it was important to have all stakeholders involved and has been a co-operative effort and EU has enjoyed its partnership with Government, Sugar Research Institute of Fiji (SRIF), the cane farmers and all organisations in implementing the programmes.

“By working with the different partners we have been able to provide support in different fields.

“We were very pleased to have provided needed support after TC Winston when farmers were very much in need of seedlings.

“It is not only a programme which is beneficial to Fiji sugar in the longer term but has been able to respond to some of the immediate challenges which were created by TC Winston.”

Earlier this year, the European Union indicated it would provide an additional 11 million Euros (about F$25.96m) assistance to the sugar sector.

Mr Mohan had said this would come under the EDF11 Programme through budget support.

Under the road upgrade infrastructure, over 200 kilometres of selected cane access roads Sector under its (AMSP) Program were repaired.

Jacobs’ term ends

Meanwhile, Mr Sayed-Khaiyum expressed Government’s appreciation for outgoing Ambassador Jacobs.

“His term in Fiji is finished and has been a good Ambassador of the EU and the delegation here and the Pacific in Fiji.”

Mr Jacobs said his time in Fiji had been some of the best years of his life.

Edited by Ranoba Baoa

Feedback:  charles.chambers@fijisun.com.fj

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