THIS week the EU announced that the preferential quotas to African Caribbean Pacific sugar-producing countries would cease from 2017.
This decision was delivered by European Commission deputy director general for development co-operation Marcus Cornaro at the 13th ACP sugar ministerial conference held at Shangri-La's Fijian Resort and Spa near Sigatoka on Tuesday.
The decision will have multiple effects for all ACP sugar producers and canhave serious impacts on smaller producing countries.
The end of preferential quotas, enjoyed since 1975, means the EU will not be buying all of Fiji's sugar at a rate significantly higher than the world sugar price.
FSC executive chairman Abdul Khan confirmed that in the absence of a quota system, there would be no certainty as to how much Fiji sugar the EU would buy.
So because there will be no more guarantees post 2017, ACP countries will have to look at other markets and have to face the reality that this news will persuade some farmers to leave the industry.
According to Mauritius Sugar minister and chairman of the ACP sugar ministerial committee Satya Veyash Faugoo, 8000 sugar workers chose voluntary retirement and about one quarter of small growers in his country opted out of the industry.
Strategies to lure them back had been largely unsuccessful, he shared.