THE Food and Agriculture Organisation's Asia Pacific Sugar Conference will reconvene in Fiji in 2017 and will be held every five years from then.
This was the announcement made at the end of the 2012 talks which ended at the Westin Denarau in Nadi last week.
During the three-day forum, a number of issues were raised like the uncertainty of the European Union and how volatility of the world sugar market had raised some concerns for local growers. However, the conference declaration noted with appreciation Tate and Lyle Sugars assurance to continue to purchase Fiji sweetener beyond 2015 when the current agreement ends.
Local farmers also heard first hand that the high cost of sugar production was a world-wide phenomenon and not isolated to Fiji. The conference advocated that it was necessary for all sugar-producing nations in the Asia-Pacific region to share information and experiences to assist in their respective development.
Significant advancements made by Brazil and Thailand in terms of their respective sugar industries and biofuels and other diversification initiatives was also noted by the conference. Brazil's offer of assistance to other countries was welcomed and it was agreed that this should be further progressed at diplomatic and industry level.
The FAO has assured the Fiji sugar industry that it will provide support in key areas once consultations on specific issues were undertaken at field and sector levels.
Meanwhile, growers that attended the conference said it was eye-opening to see how global economics affected the sugar industry in the country.
Prominent local farmer Prem Singh said many of his colleagues were now better informed as to the issues facing the industry on a global scale and how important it was for growers to increase yield and improve productivity to remain viable and to keep the local sugar industry competitive with the rest of the world.