PLANS by the Sugar Ministry and industry stakeholders to increase cane production in the next five years are critical to ensure the harvest meets improved mill production and efficiency.
Sugar Ministry permanent secretary Lieutenant Colonel Manasa Vaniqi said plans to increase production by 30,000 hectares by 2017 could result in a total harvest of 4.2 million tonnes of cane in the next five years, which would be able to meet the processing potential of the country's mills.
Lt-Col Vaniqi said the increasing efficiency of the sugar mills had exposed the inability of cane growers to meet demand.
"The mills have been very efficient this year but there is not enough cane coming to mills and that is a real concern," he said.
"While manpower has also been an issue, we have managed to sort this out by using prisoners and asking villagers to harvest cane.
"Cane supply, however, still remains an issue and this is something we hope to address by increasing production in the next five years."