Sunvoice

Editorial: Bright days Ahead of the Sugar industry

One million tonnes of sugar cane has been crushed to date this year. Prime Minister and Minister for Sugar, Voreqe Bainimarama, Permanent Secretary for Sugar, Yogesh Karan, Fiji Sugar Corporation
29 Aug 2017 11:00
Editorial: Bright days Ahead of the Sugar industry

One million tonnes of sugar cane has been crushed to date this year.

Prime Minister and Minister for Sugar, Voreqe Bainimarama, Permanent Secretary for Sugar, Yogesh Karan, Fiji Sugar Corporation CEO Graham Clark and COO FSC Navin Chandra must be commended for this achievement.

In fact, all officials, workers of the sugar industry and cane farmers need to pat themselves on the back – they deserve it.

At the beginning of the year, or even after TC Winston, no one thought this was possible.

Critics from political parties opposed to Government, former so-called leaders of cane farmers, unionists and even individuals from within the cane belt had already spelt doom for the sugar industry.

In fact one thing they were right about was the industry was on a downward spiral.

Yes, it seemed like that. Sugar cane fields and homes of farmers were battered by Tropical Cyclone Winston. Penang Mill in Rakiraki  was destroyed. The collateral damage seemed to indicate the industry was really doomed.

No one dreamed that it was possible to bounce back. The negativity that  ensued came from some politicians vehemently opposed to Government recovery programmes.

They made it sound that it would be difficult to recover. But the Government pushed forward with its recovery programmes. It introduced initiatives and incentives. Surely and gradually confidence returned to the sugar industry, especially to farmers, who were like a ship without its captain.

The millions of dollars poured in through grants and assistance to help the farmers were criticised by the politicians who were taking cheap  shots for political gain.

The farmers did the sums and discovered that the Government was sincere and genuine in its efforts to revive the industry.

They realised that the benefits they were now getting through the Government initiatives were more than any provided by previous governments.

Inspired by the new initiatives, they went on full throttle to raise production.

In fact, the critics never dreamed this would happen because they never had  to spend millions to rebuild the industry.

The FijiFirst Government did it and the results are showing through the present performances of all sectors and stakeholders within the sugar industry.

One million tonnes of sugar cane crushed produced 110,000 tonnes of sugar with a TCTS (tonnes of cane per tonne of sugar) at 9.1.

For the same period last year, 830,000 tonnes of cane were crushed producing 85,000 tonnes of sugar with a TCTS of 9.7.

The cane farmers in Rakiraki are not complaining because their worries on transportation had been taken care of.

The production figures highlighted yesterday by Mr Chandra proved that the industry was definitely improving.

The figures can only get better. More land is being sought by farmers to increase their yields.

Such is the enthusiasm now within the industry that it has neutralised the voice of critics.

Indicators are positive and we can all look forward to a much better future, barring cyclones and floods.

Charles Chambers

Feedback:  charles.chambers@fijisun.com.fj

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