THE Secretariat of the Pacific Community has been given more than 4million euros (F$9.85m) to implement micro projects (IMP) to assist the sugar industry.
The 43-month program, with a total budget of 4million euros, will be implemented by the Secretariat for the Pacific Community under the Improving Key Services to Agriculture.
SPC director general Dr Jimmie Rogers said the sugar industry had been the mainstay of Fiji's economy for a number of years, contributing about 35 per cent of total agricultural exports in 2012.
"However, the industry currently faces a number of challenges including the removal of the EU support subsidy terms of preferential access and pricing," he said.
"A downturn in the industry will have significant negative impacts on many people including farmers, cane cutter, mill workers and especially the weaker and vulnerable sections of these groupings like women and children and the poor in general."
He said, therefore, the EU, under its Accompanying Measures for Sugar Protocol Countries, was responding to the situation by funding the implementation of a number of programs with the main aim of mitigating the adverse effects of the changes to the industry on those who depended on it.
EU deputy director general of Europe Aid Marcus Cornaro, who officially signed the agreement with Dr Rodgers in Lautoka yesterday, said they were happy to assist an organisation that shared common goals.
The IMP is funded under the EU Social Mitigation Program for 2012 with the main objective of reducing social, economic and environmental vulnerability of sugar cane farmers and mill workers impacted by the sugar industry reform through the provision of micro projects.