SUNBIZ

Level Of Government Assistance To Sugar Industry Remains Significant

The sugar industry is here to stay and it continues to be the Government’s vision to revitalise the industry despite the numerous challenges which have been faced. Assistant Minister for
23 Dec 2018 10:59
Level Of Government  Assistance To Sugar  Industry Remains Significant
From Left: Commissioner Northern Jovesa Vocea, Assistant Minister for Sugar George Vegnathan, Sugar Cane Growers Fund Labasa loan officer operation Sagar Dayal and Sugar Cane Growers Fund chief executive officer Raj Sharma cut cake to launch the back to school promotion in Labasa on December 21,2018. Photo:Shratika Naidu

The sugar industry is here to stay and it continues to be the Government’s vision to revitalise the industry despite the numerous challenges which have been faced.

Assistant Minister for Sugar George Vegnathan made this com­ment during his first official visit to Labasa after his appointment on Friday.

“We have seen that working side by side with our sugarcane farmers has put the industry back on a path towards a resilient future, a future where sugar remains bedrock of our economic growth and prosper­ity,” Mr Vegnathan said.

“The Labasa mill closed for crushing season last week and has crushed 620,000 tonnes of cane for the 2018 harvesting season, repre­senting 36 percent of the total es­timated production of 1.7 million tonnes of cane.

“The level of Government assis­tance to sugar industry remains significant.

“Targeted areas are supported in the 2018-2019 Government budgets to directly assist farmers by reduc­ing their costs of production and increasing productivity,” he added.

These initiatives include planting grant, subsidies on fertiliser and weedicide, upgrading of cane ac­cess roads, infield drainages and harvesting and transportation of cane to mills.”

Aging farmers

In response to our aging farmer population he said the Government has set up the Farmers Assistance Programme, to attract new farmers to enter our sugar cane industry.

He explained an innovation for 2019 will be to launch a trial into mechanical harvesting in hilly ar­eas, using specially adapted tractor harvesters for these conditions.

For the above, Government has allocated $62.3 million in the 2018-2019 budget to support the sugar sector and the running of the Min­istry of Sugar Industry.

“In partnership with Fiji Sugar Corporation, Government has also established a Sugar Cane Stabili­sation Fund to ensure sugarcane farmers will receive a guaranteed price of $85 per tonne of cane for next three years,” he said.

“This will provide price certainty and further strengthen the confi­dence of our growers.

“A key Government objective is to modernise the sugar industry.

“To date Government has assisted 45 co-operatives and three Cane Producers Associations to procure mechanical harvesters and tractor with implements to mechanise sug­arcane farming.

“These mechanical investments are all part of the strategic objec­tive to return the farming of cane to a viable future.

“Government will continue to in­ject funding where necessary for the sugar industry to bring about meaningful change.

“We look forward to working with all sugar industry stakeholders to ensure that this is a collaborative effort and one that is also sustain­able.”

Feedback: shratikan@fijisun.com.fj

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