NEWS

Labour Shortage A Factor In The Decline Of Fiji Sugar Production

“The last 9 years of consecutive economic growth had resulted in better opportunities in other sectors that have reduced the available labour pool in the sugar industry,”
12 Feb 2019 10:10
Labour Shortage A Factor In The Decline Of Fiji Sugar Production
Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum with Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama in Parliament on February 11, 2019. Photo: Parliament of Fiji

A shortage of labour are among the major contributors for the declining trend in sugar production says, Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama.

The Prime Minister made the clarifications in response to Social Democratic Liberal Party candidate Inosi Kuridrani’s question in Parliament yesterday.

Mr Kuridrani had asked the Prime Minister and Minister for iTaukei Affairs and  Sugar Industry to explain the declining trend in the sugar industry.

In response, the Prime Minister informed Parliament that shortage of labour particularly the number of cane cutters had reduced from 15,000 in 2006 to 7000 in 2017.

“The last 9 years of consecutive economic growth had resulted in better opportunities in other sectors that have reduced the available labour pool in the sugar industry,” he said.

“The other factor is aging sugarcane farmers.

“Currently 79 per cent of our farmers are above the age of 50 years and majority of the current generation have moved on to find employment in other sectors.”

He said the land lease issues continued to be challenge for the sugar industry as a result of non-renewal of leases.

“The total sugar farming land had been reduced from 73,000 hectares in 1996 to 55, 000 in 2006, further reduced to 39,000 in 2016,” he said.

Mr Bainimarama said the negative impacts of natural disasters in the sugar industry continued to be a hindrance to sugar production.

“During the period 2007 to 2016 Fiji has experienced eight natural disasters in the form of tropical cyclones, flooding and prolonged droughts,” he said, while questioning the selective manner in which Mr Kuridrani had asked his question.

Despite the challenges faced, he said the Government was committed to the industry.

Edited by Ranoba Baoa

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