FIJI'S sugar reform efforts by the government to diversify and increase revenue streams were lauded by the chairman of the African Caribbean Pacific ministerial committee on sugar, Satya Veyash Faugoo.
Speaking at the 13th ACP Ministerial Conference on Sugar, he commended the Fiji government's five-year strategic action plan to revive the industry and ensure long-term sustainability.
"Your government's objective to produce in excess of 50,000 tonnes of raw sugar, against some 160,000 tonnes today, refine in excess of 100,000 tonnes of raw sugar, generate 360 gigawatt hours of electricity and produce 23 million litres of ethanol is highly laudable and worthy of emulation," Mr Faugoo said.
"Following the declining trend in sugar production, further aggravated by the 36 per cent price cut as a result of the EU sugar reform, we are pleased to note that the government, under your wise leadership, has set up a Strategic Action Plan 2013-2017 with the aim of restoring industry competitiveness and securing its long term viability and sustainability."
Mr Faugoo, who also serves as the Minister of Agro Industry and Food Security and Attorney-General of Mauritius, also acknowledged provisions by the Fiji government to assist the sugar industry, including field and mill reforms, support for fertilisers and other inputs to growers.
In his keynote address, Prime Minister and Minister for Sugar Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama said the government and sugar stakeholders were no longer interested in just keeping the industry afloat and diversification plans currently being discussed and implemented were the way forward for the future.