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The Bitter Facts of our Sugar Industry

June 7, 2013


FSC executive chairman Abdul Khan has told the International Sugar Organization that he has a ‘Sugar Cane Strategic Action Plan’. We don’t know what’s in the plan but he claims it will allow FSC to achieve commercial viability by 2020.

The one good thing about this latest declaration is his admission that there has been “‘a reduction in crop size and a reduction in quality and yield on a per hectare basis”.

In other words: a reduction in the number of hectares, a reduction in the amount cane per hectare, and in the quality of every tonne of cane produced.

This admission of the facts is a good start, but, unfortunately, the honesty doesn’t last long. Abdul Khan finishes by referring to “the turnaround achieved in the past two years could be continued to 2020.” What turnaround?

Go to the Fiji Bureau of Statistics site and you’ll find the facts. There has been no turnaround. In 2011 there was 1000 more hectares of cane grown, but still 12,000ha below the pre-coup level. Yields got back to 45 tonnes/ha but that’s the post-coup average, a lot less than the 55 tonnes/ha pre-coup.

But worst of all, the mills are still performing badly. The average tonnes of cane needed for a tonne of sugar in 2011 was 12.6. That’s not a turnaround. That’s a turn down the road to ruin.

The Bureau of Stats report tells the truth. It reveals low production was “due to poor cane price which small growers are unable to sustain.” The regime knows that $80 a tonne is the bare minimum to keep cane production going, but they’re borrowing to pay this because the mills were wrecked by the failed mill refit.

If Bainimarama hadn’t spat in the face of our traditional aid donors he could have requested the help needed to fix the mills. Thanks to his arrogance our sugar industry is doomed.


Source – Fiji Today, Posted by Rusi Varani for SWM

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