THE global population boom and corresponding increase in demand for sugar is a positive sign for the local industry, says Sugar Ministry permanent secretary Lieutenant Colonel Manasa Vaniqi.
Speaking after his return from the International Sugar Organisation forum in London last week, Lt-Col Vaniqi said despite a lot of challenges, the future of the sugar industry in Fiji remained positive.
"We had the reduction in price by 36 per cent followed by news that from 2017, the preferential quota that we have enjoyed for many years will be gone and yet we managed to secure a good sugar price for our growers this year and next year as well," he said.
"During talks in London we received some very positive feedback about the growing demand for sugar caused by increasing population and this means that we have a chance to bid for these market opportunities."
Fiji currently enjoys preferential quota prices that fluctuate between US24-28 cents (F45-52 cents) per pound, however, post 2017 with the removal of preferential quotas to the EU, Fiji could be forced to sell its sugar at world prices which range from US16-17 (F30-32 cents) cents per pound.
Lt-Col Vaniqi said the answer lay in increasing production and yield per hectare, as proposed in the Sugar Action Plan.
Under the plan, the industry hopes to produce four million tonnes of sugar by 2017 as opposed to the less than two million tonnes achieved over the past three years.