Fiji Has Sugar At Heart, Says PM

Fiji will not give up on its sugar industry. A new action plan will be put together to identify what works, Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama told a major industry meeting
04 Dec 2016 11:00
Fiji Has Sugar  At Heart, Says PM

Fiji will not give up on its sugar industry. A new action plan will be put together to identify what works, Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama told a major industry meeting in London.

While delivering remarks at the 50th Session of the International Sugar Organisation Council in London, Mr Bainimarama spoke about the resilience of the industry in the face of devastation by Category 5 Tropical Cyclone Winston.

“The Fijian industry is undertaking a review of its Sugar Action Plan 2013-2017 to identify what is working and what is not. To find out why certain targets haven’t been met and what needs to be done to meet them,” he said.

“And set new targets and time lines, plus new policy guidelines and investment plans, to take us forward. All this will be included in a new successor plan for the industry for the next three to five years starting next year – 2017.”

He said Fiji does not intend to give up on sugar cane.

“On the contrary, we intend to continue with our programme to modernise the industry, to embrace new technology to improve our yields and give us the information we need to make better planning decisions,” the PM said.

“We must extract as much sugar as we can from a single plant and value add with new products and by-products. We must build our resilience to the threat to the industry posed by climate change.

“And we must constantly scan the horizon for new markets and work as hard as we can as an industry to give those markets what they require.”

Fiji’s aim, he said, was to reduce the cost of production, maximise revenue and ensure that the industry remains viable and sustainable.

“Because that is our ultimate duty to Fijian people and especially those who rely on sugar. That we provide the industry with the right leadership and all work as a team – one people, one industry – as we move forward together in challenging times.”

Special mention to EuropeanUnion’s assistance to the industry

Mr Bainimarama made special mention of the European Union for assistance provided post-Winston in rehabilitation efforts.

“I especially want to acknowledge the generosity of the European Union and its member states in assisting our agriculture sector, including sugar. The EU has provided Fiji – through direct budget support – the sum of 10 million Euros for rehabilitation and recovery.”

Mr Bainimarama will travel to Brussels for meetings this week with European officials – including the President of the European Council, Donald Tusk.

“As you all know, our preferential access to the European market for sugar draws to a close towards the end of the next year. And we also appreciate the assistance that the European Union is providing to Fiji to make that transition less painful.”

New goals

In light of Cyclone Winston, the sugar production forecast had to be revised.

Before Cyclone Winston struck, Fiji’s crop estimate for the current season was 1.84 million metric tonnes of cane. But that has had to be reviewed downwards three times to the current 1.354 million metric tonnes.

As of October 24 and after 16 weeks of crush, the three remaining mills had crushed a total crop of 1,116,564 metric tonnes of cane, yielding 115,068 metric tonnes of sugar with a TCTS (tonnes of cane to tonnes of sugar) of 9.7.

Mr Bainimarama said: “This represents 82 per cent of the cane crop and 76 per cent of sugar production, on our final revised estimates. The ratio of tonne cane to tonne sugar is above the projected ratio by 0.7 percentage points, from 9.0 to 9.7. This is a direct result of the devastation wrought on our cane crop by Tropical Cyclone Winston.”

The remaining 18 per cent of the crop – 237,436 metric tonnes – is currently being harvested during the remaining six weeks of the crush.

And on the basis on the current TCTS of 9.7, Government expect the remaining crop to yield only about 24,480 metric tonnes of sugar.

“We predict that we will achieve the final revised crop estimate of 1,353,000 metric tonnes.

“But with a TCTS of 9.7, we are unlikely to achieve the final revised sugar production of 150,444 metric tonnes. The sugar make is more likely to be around 139,546 metric tonnes.”

Edited by Naisa Koroi


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