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Recent Floods to Affect Cane

Recent Floods to Affect Cane
April 07
11:00 2018

The Fiji Sugar Corpora­tion’s estimate of about 1.75 million tonnes of sugar cane this season may take a slight dent in the fore­cast.

The recent floods brought about by Tropical Cyclone Josie left behind some dam­age, around five per cent, to emerging cane crops on Viti Levu.

However another bout of bad weather struck again, this time in the north and as­sessments are still being done by FSC staff on the ground to see what the damages were and its effect on the projected figures.

However, unlike after the devastation of TC Winston in 2016, when the majority of sugar cane fields received the brunt of the cyclone, the receding waters from floods usually see some cane bounc­ing back up.

FSC chairman, Vishnu Mohan was optimistic, as was the chief executive of­ficer Graham Clark in the im­provement in financials for this season, given the bumper crop that was gearing itself up for the crushing season.

The last two years were best left to the history books as the figures were nothing to write home about.

FSC’s financial results for the financial year 2017 largely reflected the impact of TC Winston.

Mr Mohan, following the 2017 Annual General Meet­ing said the 2017 turnover declined by 38 per cent, how­ever, the net loss improved by 18.5 per cent compared to 2016.The decrease in turno­ver for 2017 was mainly due to reduced production because of the impact of TC Winston on cane production, quality of cane and hence reduced sugar make.

Some figures the FSC would not like to remember include:

  • Proceeds in financial year 2017 was FJ$43 million com­pared to FJ$58.7m in the previous year but this was negated by the trading loss (FJ$18.5m) and operations (FJ$39.6 million) compared to a loss of FJ$7.7 million and FJ$26.1 million, respectively for the previous year.
  • Operating loss for 2017 was FJ$45 million compared to a loss of FJ$53.4 m in the pre­vious year, which included a FJ$10.2 m impairment loss on capital works in progress and an adjustment as required by International Financial Reporting Standards, for im­pairment of property, plant and equipment of FJ$24 mil­lionCane planting in the 2017 season has seen a very posi­tive improvement in achieve­ments of cane growers and the FSC’s Extension Team engagement with the grower community.

Of course the sudden hype in the sugar industry and im­proved performances have all come together with a new vig­our and outlook from all the stakeholders.

Government grants and subsidies in weedicides, cane planting, fertilisers amongst others, and the provision of low cost hiring of tractors and farming implements has surely boosted the morale of farmers.

These same farmers were shown dooms door by politi­cians and members of the Op­position.

“There is a spirit of excite­ment and renewed enthu­siasm in the air!” Mr Clark said.

Damages caused by the floods at Rarawai Mill:

FSC’s Rarawai Mill felt the brunt of the recent floods associated with Tropical Cy­clone Josie.

Whilst critical machinery such as mills, turbines and boilers have been spared, low lying machinery, such as electric motors, pumps, trans­formers and cables were com­pletely submerged beneath flood water, with resulting damage.

Like much of Ba town, the Rarawai Mill was under wa­ter for close to 18 hours.

Continuous rain from around 7am on Sunday 1 April to 1am on Monday 2nd April caused the river to burst its banks.

Rarawai Mill located on the banks of the Ba river felt the brunt of the exceptionally high floods.

Mill management noted that based on an evaluation of silt deposits and height of the wa­ter, this flood is similar to that experienced in 2012.

Rarawai Mill manager Taito Kafoa said: “The team is cur­rently engaged in cleaning pumps and motors as well as other low lying machines that were flooded and covered in silt.

“We are also doing a main­tenance check following the clean-up, to determine wheth­er items of equipment are op­erational.”

The mill currently does not have running water.

This is because the main wa­ter pipe that supplies water to the mill was partly washed away.

As a result our staff are be­ing supplied drinking water in the factory.

The engineer’s block within the mill has power supply, so all administration personnel are working from there,” Mr Kafoa said.

Recovery work is anticipat­ed to take about two weeks. The mill had completed 50 per cent of their slack sea­son maintenance in all areas within the mill until affected by the flood.

All efforts will be directed toward getting back on track with mill maintenance work as soon as possible.

Historically, the Rarawai Mill has always been affected when a major flood occurs. This recent flood struck as some significant mainte­nance repair work was be­ing carried out on the mill equipment. Recovery will be as swift as possible in order to

achieve maintenance com­pletion targets.

Mr Clark said: “It is unfor­tunate that we have had to go through this. But our resolve and resilience remains para­mount and recovery efforts are in full swing.

“Our thoughts are with our growers and their families as they have suffered the most”.

Estimates of damage to the cane crop indicate losses along the banks of rivers and creeks, as well as in low lying areas.

Elsewhere, damage is not as significant as it might have been, resulting in an overall estimated reduction in the emerging cane crop of some five per cent.

FSC staff consulted with farmers and representatives of the Sugar Cane Growers Council in reaching this fig­ure.

Further updates on progress and cost of remedial work will be given as the clean-up and repairs continue, with an objective of minimising potential delay to start of the 2018 crushing season.

Feedback: charles.chambers@fijisun.com.fj

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