Weather Fiji, Suva   Max 30°C, Min 23°C

Fiji Sun

SUNBIZ

Seruiratu Opens $100k Mill Project

Seruiratu Opens $100k Mill Project
From left: Tui Macuata Ratu Wiliame Katonivere, Minister for Agriculture Inia Seruiratu and Fiji Rice Limited mill manager Ashrit Pratap during the commissioning of two dryers and rice crushed at the mill in Dreketi, Macuata Province on March 10, 2018. Photo: Shratika Naidu
March 11
11:01 2018

Rice farmers in Dreketi will not need to wait longer for their paddy to be weighed.

This is after the Minister for Agriculture Inia Seruiratu commissioned two dryers and a husk crusher at Fiji Rice Limited mill in Dreketi, Macuata Province yesterday.

The project cost is around $100,000.

Mr Seruiratu said the husk crusher would diversify into animal feed production.

“This is another milestone for the company as this venture will generate more income and at the same create employment for rural communities,” Mr Seruiratu said.

“I would like to remind the stakeholders to do their part and assist the company.

“Let me assure you, that the Government is committed to provide all the assistance in terms of funding, machinery, subsidiary and extra.

“We know that manual work has gone.

“We need mechanisation, technology, ma­chines not only so that we can produce the volume to meet the demand but also to adapt to the changing environment in terms of cli­mate change, the dynamics of world econom­ic and the need for us to feed our people in terms of food security and nutrition security as well.

“The opening of the two new dryers and husk crusher is part of the new modernisa­tion plan in the Ministry of Agriculture,” he said.“Because in that new modernisation plan we look at the whole value chain from the farm level right to the market plan.

“We all have a responsibility in that mod­ernisation plan.

“I had a quick meeting with my staff and I told them that I want to see rice production in Vanua Levu increasing, particularly in Dreketi area because if there is anyone in Government that knows about rice industry intimately it is me.

“As the former commissioner northern, chairman of the Vanua Levu rice task force and later channel of the then Rewa Rice Lim­ited with Tui Macuata Ratu Wiliame Katoni­vere.

“We know the struggles the Rewa Rice Lim­ited went through to increase rice produc­tion. Look today with so much of effort put into we see lot of development taking place.”

Fiji Rice Limited board chairman Raj Sharma said the company was in the transformation phase, as they expect to bring in lot of chang­es with more of the discipline in the milling efficiency.

“We have a vision to make this company as top miller, producing top quality brown rice for the peo­ple of Fiji and beyond,” Mr Shar­ma said.

“We value our farmers not as rice paddy suppliers but our genuine business partners and that part­nership is based on the foundation bringing about quality of the prod­uct for its price.

“That can only happen with effec­tive and efficient milling process.”

Hence, FRL is trying to restruc­ture its balance sheet and sell all those assets that is properties in Nausori to invest mostly in its core business relating to rice mill­ing, farming and perhaps having a headquarters in Labasa.

“We must be thankful to the gov­ernment that price of the paddy $750 per tonne is very impressive compared to the world market price and our recent discussion with counterparts in India men­tioned that price is very generous.”

New mill setup

A new mill has been setup through the company’s own cash flow and the opening will be done later.

“We felt that the old mill has limitations in terms of capacity to meet increasing demand for our rice,” Mr Sharma said.

“This investment is worth about $400,000 (mill, building and compli­ance).

“This has been very prudent in­vestment and we can do more, but we need, we need, we need more rice paddies.

“We have capacity to mill 4000 tons of rice collectively per an­num and right now we just mill approximately 800 tones, expected this year.

“I request our farmers to plant more.”

Future Plans

Mr Sharma said they are look­ing at getting some plants and ma­chines to supplement the needs of the farmers.

“We have bought tractors and im­plements worth around $100,000.

“The company is also looking at rice farming to meet the common objective of reduce import bills on rice and that does not mean that our farmers would marginalised.

“Certainly, we have more markets than expected.

“I am pleased to advise that Fiji Sugar Corporation have also regis­tered their interest for us to supply to the cane farmers and we have opted on a progressive basis start­ing with Labasa mill farmers.

“That requires around 220 tons of rice (meaning 320 tons of pad­dy), expected delivery end of the month.

“FRL invested into three new modern electric dryers that one ton per hour capacity in 2016 and today we witnessed the opening of two three ton dryers,” he said.

“At the same time we thank the government for allocating $60,000 for two more three ton capacity dryers in 2017‐18 budgets.

“We expect the dryers to be in­stalled by July 2018.

“In addition to this soon, FRL car­ry out a health audit mill for look at the current gaps in the structure and milling layout.

“It is also to be noted that whole building is under process of up­grading with renovations that includes painting and cyclone up­grade,” he added.

“”We are only able to invest if we have a vision and disciple to bring about quality and that is important too for the quality of paddy that we receive.”

This building is expected to be in­ternational standard with HACCP.

“At FRL, we continue look the wel­fare of our people, at opportunities for training and development of our staff, recently have got prop­er staff uniform and insurance scheme.

“This was not available.”

Study scheme for staff

There is study scheme for the staff and accommodate internship.

“As known to the farmers, we are in the process of getting the farm­ers insurance scheme across with assistance of Pacific Financial Inclusion program and Fiji Care Insurance, where for $52 pa there is good coverage offered similar to sugar cane farmers.

“Finally, Government has allocat­ed $100,000 for the warehouse for the farmers, which will be used as paddy storage in case of unfavour­able weathers.

“The company is in the process of finalising the plans and con­struction programme, expected to commence within two months.

Minister for Agriculture Inia Seruiratu and Fiji Rice Limited mill operations manager Rahil Prasad during the commissioning of the dryers and rice crusher at the mill in Dreketi, Macuata on March 10, 2018. Photo: Shratika Naidu

Minister for Agriculture Inia Seruiratu and Fiji Rice Limited mill operations manager Rahil Prasad during the commissioning of the dryers and rice crusher at the mill in Dreketi, Macuata on March 10, 2018. Photo: Shratika Naidu

“FRL will continue to concentrate on enhancing it brand and image together with mill efficiencies.”

Feedback: shratikan@fijisun.com.fj

Related Articles