THE Sugar Research Institute of Fiji yesterday opened its $1.3million facility at Drasa in Lautoka that was funded by the EU, the government and the Fiji Sugar Corporation.
Opening the new facility, Prime Minister and Sugar Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama said it was made possible through the partnership between the government, FSC and the EU which contributed $760,000.
"We deeply appreciate the European contribution of around $760,000 or 58 per cent of the cost of building this facility," he said.
"We also appreciate the European funding for laboratory equipment, the training of staff and the various research projects under the EU-ACP Research program."
Commodore Bainimarama highlighted the upgraded facility as another result of the government's reforms of the sugar industry.
"Now our reforms show clear signs of producing a remarkable turnaround, even in the face of a challenging global trading environment marked by higher production and generally lower market prices.
"As I told our (ACP) ministerial meeting, confidence in the Fijian industry is growing, more land is being planted and our farmers have received a record payment for their efforts.
"The Fijian sugar cane industry is very much alive. And with the assistance of researchers in this wonderful new facility, we intend — working together — to take it to even greater heights, in the interests of the Fijian economy and all our people."
Institute CEO Jai Gawander expressed hope the support provided to the institute by various stakeholders would serve to boost research and innovation which would ultimately help the industry achieve its targets.
"To maintain our impressive past, SRIF has to accelerate the shift towards an innovative industry-driven research to solve the problems in the sugar sector and respond to broader global challenges," he said.
"This is because science is a driver for greater productivity, efficiency and innovation.
"In recent years there have been glimpses of achievements but there is room to do even more particularly in collaboration with others."