INDIA'S Finance Minister believes much remains to be done to improve the world sugar economy with the sugar market continuing to experience considerable price volatility.
Pranab Mukherjee, while opening the 41st session of the International Sugar Council in New Delhi yesterday, said he looked forward to further steps for the development and stabilisation of the sugar sector.
Mr Mukherjee's suggestion was timely given that Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama is hoping to copy some of India's sugar industry's best practices to develop the industry in Fiji.
"As the highest authority under the International Sugar Agreement, I look forward to see further steps for the development and stabilisation of sugar sector by the International Sugar Council," said Mr Mukherjee.
"I am aware of the number of activities undertaken by the International Sugar Council in different parts of the world with a view to giving economic boost to the sugar sector."
India is the second largest producer of sugar in the world after Brazil with about 500 million farmers and their families involved in sugarcane cultivation and harvesting.
Mr Mukherjee urged the council to examine and analyse the information system on demand and supply, international policies and the trade competitiveness for the realistic estimation of sugar production.
"Better information is a powerful tool for price stability," he said.
Mr Mukherjee emphasised the importance of global co-operation in research and development of sugar technologies, which he believes hold the key to full potential of this important industry in developing countries.
He believes the development of sugar by-products was vital for improving the financial health of the sector. This included co-generation of electricity by sugar mills.
"It's a potential source of environment friendly energy. These technologies must be developed and encouraged to spread quickly."
Commodore Bainimarama is looking forward to talks with sugar authorities in India to improve Fiji's own industry.
"I am looking forward to a fruitful discussion with some of you here as I hold the Sugar Ministry's portfolio as its minister," Commodore Bainimarama said earlier on.
"I look forward to learn from some of the best practices that are benchmarked in this country to benefit my own sugar industry."
The sugar industry in India, being one of the largest agro-based industries in the subcontinent, is critical for India's rural development and in turn for the overall economic progress.