Fiji to get €11 million from EU for sugar sector development

The European Union has indicated it would provide an additional €11 million (FJ$22.6m) assistance to the sugar sector, according to local press reports.

This was announced in late January by the Chairman of the Fiji Sugar Corporation Vishnu Mohan at a press conference in Lautoka.

“There are also possibilities that the EU would assist in the rehabilitation of farms affected by TC [tropical cyclone] Winston,” Mr Mohan said.

Currently, EU is assisting the Sugar Sector under its Accompanying Measures for the Sugar Protocol (AMSP) Program.

One of the major programs under AMSP is the €13 million project for the Rural Access Roads and Associated Infrastructure (RARAI) Project being implemented by the South Pacific Commission.

Over 200 kilometers of selected cane access roads and drainage systems in the Malolo and Drasa areas in Lautoka and Koronubu sectors in Ba would be rehabilitated between the 2017 and 2018 cane crushing season.

Meanwhile, Mohan said FSC was looking at hitting the 3 million tonnes cane production target by 2020.

Cane Production for 2016 season was 1.39 million tonnes with a production of 140,000 tonnes of sugar compared to 1.86 million tonnes of cane and 222,000 tonnes of sugar in 2015.

The drop was attributed to damages caused by the prolonged drought which had prevailed for the third consecutive season and TC Winston.

“However, we are expecting the cane production for 2017 will be close to 2 million tonnes.”

Over 3,500 ha of cane have been planted in 2016 as of December 31 with the assistance provided by Government as Cane Planting Grant (CPG).

The government has allocated FJ$2million for the purchase of mechanical harvesters to reduce harvest and transport cost.

The Ministry of Sugar Industry is currently inviting proposals from stakeholders including FSC, Sugar Cane Growers Fund, Cooperatives, Cane Producers Association and Individual farmers to decide on the best approach to effectively utilize these funds.

In addition to FJ$4.6mln allocated in the 2016 budget, the Government has allocated an additional FJ$9mln in the 2016/17 budget for the CPG encourage cane farmers to plant cane.

In 2016/17 budget, Government has allocated FJ$3 million for the upgrading of cane access roads to accelerate the transportation of cane to the mills.

The tender process for the selection of contractors would be made around March so that the cane access roads are ready before the start of 2017 crush.

Annually, about 2,800 cane access roads measuring 3,800 km are maintained under this programme.

FSC had plans to implement four major capital projects as part of diversification strategy following the EU reforms.

The cogeneration and ethanol plant projects in Rarawai, Sugar Refinery in Labasa and Syrup Mill in Penang are on hold.

The government is facilitating the independent review of the feasibility studies undertaken by FSC for transparency and to ascertain commercial viability.

International Sugar Journal

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