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Editorial: Bainimarama Leads The Fight For Better Sugar Price

June 26
14:11 2018

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama certainly walks the talk.

His unrelenting fight in the international arena on matters that are closest to the hearts of ordinary Fiji­ans has become the hallmark of his leadership.

The sugarcane farmers around the country will by now have read in the newspapers or listened on radio or watched on television his latest fight for them and their welfare.

Mr Bainimarama, while attending a special meeting of the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Committee of Ambassadors in Brussels supported a call to the Eu­ropean Union to ensure that ACP sugar suppliers were treated fairly and to look at ways of addressing the cur­rent situation.

Many ACP countries under the economic partnership agreement were unable to export sugar to the EU.

Leaders around the world have come to respect Mr Bainimarama because he does not mince his words and does not beat around the bush, so to speak.

The end of the preferential agreement with Tate and Lyle looked like doomsday was really going to descend on the cane farmers and sugar industry.

The price Fiji was receiving for sugar in this market was above the world price and to suddenly see every­thing come to an end was likely the final nail in the cof­fin.

The other nails were on the home front with the declining interest among farmers because of the high costs of cane farming coupled with politics and nat­ural disasters made the busi­ness outlook non-viable.

The Prime Minister real­ised this and with an action plan got the in­dustry back on the road.

But, the hard­est part was finding markets for Fiji’s sugar and in doing that making sure that the price per pound of sugar was above the world market price.

Fiji Sugar Corporations chairperson Vishnu Mohan, CEO Graham Clark and COO Navin Chandra with their teams they have been scouring the globe in search of markets that, at the end of the day, would benefit the cane farmers and through that filter down to those at­tached indirectly to the industry.

New Asian markets, including the first of three ship­ments to China this year is indeed gratifying news for the farmers and FSC who were now seeing their work come to fruition.

They have managed to secure a price above the present depressed world price and have plans ahead for the sale of access bulk sugar to countries that were likely to be short supplied by major sugar producing nations.

Our Prime Minister has led the way for recovery from the beginning and has put a team in place at FSC that have done nothing short of giving the industry the turn­around it so badly needed.

Of course you will get those critics and politicians, who will still have something to say, but in reality if the ball was in their court, none of them would have had the audacity to do what has been done.

That is the difference.

CHARLES CHAMBERS

Feedback: charles.chambers@fijisun.com.fj

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