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INDUSTRY Sugar Reforms to Strengthen Management of Harvest, Transport

Increased role for FSC to bring better returns for farmers: PM JYOTI PRATIBHA nadi Major reforms to improve harvesting and transporting sugarcane were confirmed yesterday by the Prime Minister as
29 Mar 2014 08:07

Increased role for FSC to bring better returns for farmers: PM
JYOTI PRATIBHA
nadi
Major reforms to improve harvesting and transporting sugarcane were confirmed yesterday by the Prime Minister as the Minister for Sugar.
They are designed to strengthen management of these key areas and boost returns to farmers.
Fiji Sugar Corporation will now control harvesting and transportation.
Rail transport will be upgraded.
Lorry operators will be given a fuel subsidy by the Corporation for carting cane from areas where rail cannot go.
Rear Admiral (Retired) Voreqe Bainimarama made this major reform announcement at Lautoka. It came as he opened the Fiji Crop & Livestock Council office in Lautoka.
Transportation of cane has been a major concern for many cane farmers in Fiji.
Mr Bainimarama said: “Any sugar cane farmer will tell you that the current transport system is too expensive, too slow and too unreliable. For some farmers, cane transport or cartage makes up 50 per cent of their total costs.
“There are instances when farmers have been held ransom by those who demand more than the agreed price for cartage. And there are also instances when farmers have suffered because transport does not show up on time.
“Under the new (Sugar) Decree, all this will change. The Fiji Sugar Corporation will assume management of all harvesting and transport.”
This will give FSC direct control to ensure canes are harvested and transported efficiently.
Improvement work will also be undertaken on rail network so that farmers can take advantage of rail’s lower cost: $6 a ton by rail versus $13 a ton by lorry. But, of course, lorries will always be a vital part of the industry because they can access places that rail cannot,” he said.
“That’s why the FSC is also looking into discounting fuel for lorry drivers by 8 to 10 cents a litre. This will spell big savings for farmers and is another important reform.”
The Sugar Decree will also allow for the election of eight Councillors to the Sugar Cane Growers Council – one from each mill area district. These Councillors will be elected directly by farmers to represent them in the Council and work together with FSC, Government and other relevant stake-holders. “Confrontation and politicizing the mechanics and processes in the Sugar Cane Industry or any other commodity in agriculture will benefit no one – except the political agitators.”
Feedback: jyotip@fijisun.com.fj




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