SUNBIZ

Sugar Remains Resilient, More Than 154k Tonnes Exported.

Things are now where they are supposed to be, and we are good to go. We hope we have a created a leading platform.
16 Jan 2021 12:22
Sugar Remains Resilient, More Than 154k Tonnes Exported.
From left, Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Sugar, Yogesh Karan, Fiji Sugar Corporation board member Arvind Singh, FSC board member Savendra Dayal, Fiji Sugar Corporation chief executive officer, Graham Clark, and FSC chief financial controller, Manoj Ram, during the FSC annual general meeting at Tanoa Waterfront Hotel in Lautoka, on January 15, 2021. Photo: Susana Hirst-Tuilau

Every Fijian and every farmer is fighting for resilience, says outgoing chief executive officer of Fiji Sugar Corporation, Graham Clark.

The result of rising above the challenges is 154,411 tonnes of bulk raw sugar being exported, while local sugar sales totalled 25,307 tonnes in 2020.

Mr Clark’s remarks were made during FSC’s annual general meeting at Tanoa Waterfront Hotel in Lautoka, yesterday.

It is Mr Clark’s last annual general meeting and board meeting as chief executive officer of Fiji Sugar Corporation, as he had given notice that he would not apply to renew his contract in February.

Mr Clark will be joining his family in South Africa.

The past four years with FSC has been marked with some significant highlights.

“When I took on the job, people said I had no chance working with 140-year-old machines,” he said.

“I think we have done well since and have invested money in the right places.”

Four years ago, FSC was in a terrible state, propelling the FSC board chairman along with the board to carry out a lot of tidying up, he said.

Mr Clark hopes he leaves the place in better shape than what he found it in.

“Things are now where they are supposed to be, and we are good to go,” he said.

“We hope we have created a leading platform.”

Mr Clark is also proud of the drop in breakdowns last year which was reported to be 20 per cent.

Other highlights included positive earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) of $60.73 million, and a net profit of $21.88 million for the year 2020, compared to a net loss of $80 million in 2019.

 

Emission reduction

Mr Clark said residents of Lautoka could finally breath clean air because FSC spent $9 million to improve air quality.

Previously, Lautoka had soot-filled air during cane harvest season.

FSC has since addressed the concern through reduced emission.

In addressing concerns over the soot-filled air, FSC improved the efficiency of its boiler, and was able to generate electricity to export into the Energy Fiji Limited (EFL) grid.

“Lautoka alone made more than $2million in last year from that export,” Mr Clark said.

FSC is looking at more power generation using ethanol, among other measures of increasing revenue, he said.

 

Premiums

Fiji offers amongst the best of premium sugar the world over.

Mr Clark said Fiji’s sugar was the only sugar used for the making of syrup worldwide, which earned FSC a substantial amount of revenue from premiums.

“There is no shortage of buyers, and this gives us the opportunity to be selective of our clients,” Mr Clark said.

Over the years, there was a litigating concern concerning the quality of sugar, and its link to the increase in burnt cane.

There was a penalty against farmers who produced burnt cane after a certain amount of time.

He hopes farmers will learn when they receive a lesser revenue,  it is  a result of bringing in burnt anes.

Mr Clark urged farmers to stop burning cane,

 

Harvesters

FSC’s 2020 annual report said the company had introduced 28 new cane harvesters, totalling 87.

  • Labasa had 36,
  • Lautoka 23,
  • Rarawai 19, and
  • Rakiraki had nine.

FSC said the increase in harvesters was expected to improve production levels for 2021.

Considering COVID-19, FSC could not bring in the technicians from India to operate these machines.

FSC was proud to have trained more than 100 locals through virtual training and workshops, in what the company described as a success.

Such measures enabled them to shorten the season last year.

To further reform FSC’s balance sheet, the corporative resorted to disposing unproductive land and properties through a tender process.

The initiative brought about positive results with sales totalling $25.93 million in the year under review.

FSC is expecting a decrease in harvest – from 30 to 35 per cent – following the devastation of Tropical Cyclone Yasa to cane farms in the Northern Division.

According to FSC, 70 per cent of cane farms in the Northern Division were affected by Tropical Cyclone Yasa.

Feedback: susana.tuilau@fijisun.com.fj

 

 



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