$2.65m payout

A sugarcane farm in Lautoka. Picture: File

A sugarcane farm in Lautoka. Picture: File

THE country’s three cane producer associations — Labasa, Lautoka and Rarawai-Penang — received about $2.65 million in Fairtrade premiums last year, thanks to negotiations by the Fiji Sugar Corporation.

The FSC facilitated the sale of sugar to Fairtrade markets in the Netherlands and Austria.

And the miller said further Fairtrade sales with related premiums were anticipated this year.

Fairtrade sugar sales earn growers an additional revenue of $US60 ($F127) per tonne, this is on top of the sugar price that is paid by the FSC annually.

The premium is paid for sugar cultivated under strict Fairtrade conditions which include the non-use of child labour and banned chemicals on farms.

The fixed Fairtrade premium of $US60 per tonne is shared equally and paid directly to each of the cane producer associations.

The associations mostly use the premium to supplement members’ costs for harvesting equipment, fertiliser, weedicide and utilities such as electricity and water.

The associations have in the past also used the premium to invest in mechanical harvesters.

“Through Fairtrade Certification and by working in partnership with FSC, sugarcane farmers via their associations are able to get paid fixed premiums directly from international buyers and develop the necessary business skills and technical capacity to become more competitive,” said FSC. The Fairtrade initiative was introduced in 2012 by sugar industry stakeholders with Government and the Sugar Cane Growers Council playing key roles in the initiative.