SUNBIZ

‘Over 2 Million Tonnes Sugar To Break Even’

President, Ratu Wiliame Katonivere, launches new sugarcane production season at Labasa.
09 Jun 2022 13:33
‘Over 2 Million Tonnes Sugar To Break Even’
President Ratu Wiliame Katonivere (middle) has warned sugar industry of the dangers associated with fuel price, as he urged them to work together. He met with Commissioner Northern, Uraia Rainima, and the staff of Fiji Sugar Corporation at Labasa mill, at the opening of the 2022 crushing season, on June 8, 2022. Photo: Shratika Naidu

Sugar Production in the North has exceeded volumes of the two previous years.

Fiji Sugar Corporation’s Labasa mill is expected to crush 678,000 tonnes of cane this season, says President, Ratu Wiliame Katonivere.

“But Fiji’s national sugar cane sector needs to produce more than two million tonnes to break even,” he said.

A former board member, Ratu Wiliame keeps abreast of industry development news in the sugarcane sector.

At the launch of the 2022 crushing season at the Labasa mill, he said cane production dropped to a low volume of 362,236 tonnes last year, while 672,000 tonnes was produced in 2020.

 

Employment Engagement

“Around 220,000 people were involved in the industry,” Ratu Wiliame said.

“Sugar cane farming remains the main income-generatore in the agriculture sector since 1894, when the mill was first established,” he said.

In Vanua Levu, an estimated 80,000 people are involved in the sugarcane industry at one time or another.

 

Ratu Wiliame said close to 4000 growers supplied sugar cane in Vanua Levu, while 350 employees were engaged in the maintenance and operations of the factory, and

co-ordination of field activities.

The balance of industry representatives included lorry drivers, cane cutters, sardars, and operators of mechanical harvesters, and tractor trailers.

Labasa sugar mill exports approximately nine to 11 gigawatts of electricity to Energy Fiji Limited’s northern electricity grid, during every crushing season.

 

“This mode of generation, through steam turbine generators during the crushing season, enables EFL to save on fuel costs,” Ratu Wiliame said.

“Co-generation is an environmentally-friendly way of producing energy for consumers in the North.”

 

FSC’s Investment Into Labasa Mill

FSC spent around $10.8 million to carry out maintenance, and $1.3  million on conduct capital works in the Labasa mill, to improve crushing efficiencies for the 2022 season.

“The replacement of the economiser unit should bring about an improvement in fuel savings, and enable continuity of boiler operations throughout the season,” Ratu Wiliame said.

 

President Ratu Wiliame Katonivere (right) was assisted by Labasa mill staff. Setareki Mataunisova, during the tip off of the first load of cane to be crushed on June 8, 2022. Photo: Shratika Naidu

President Ratu Wiliame Katonivere (right) was assisted by Labasa mill staff. Setareki Mataunisova, during the tip off of the first load of cane to be crushed on June 8, 2022. Photo: Shratika Naidu

 

14 Days Grace Period

Operators for harvesters, lorries and tractor trailers, will demand an increase in transportation costs from growers, as a direct result of the escalating prices of fuel.

The North will field 445 lorries and 135 tractor trailers this season.

“It is my humble request to the growers, lorry operators and tractor drivers, to be mindful of the repercussions of the increasing fuel price, and its impact on all stakeholders,” Ratu Wiliame said.

 

“You all will need to discuss the rates that will work best for all parties, given you all are heavily dependent on each other for your livelihoods.”

He urged the lorry drivers and tractor operators to take advantage of the 14-day grace period ,which allowed them to have their vehicles certified, to avoid unnecessary fines.

 



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