WORK on rehabilitating rail systems used by farmers to transport sugar cane to mills has begun.
This was confirmed by Prime Minister Rear Admiral Voreqe Bainimarama during the launch of two new varieties of sugar cane in Ba last week.
Rear Admiral Bainimarama also said two more locomotives had been purchased from Queensland along with 10 six-tonne rail bins which was intended to try for the future cartage of cane.
"These could, over time, replace the existing three-tonne bins," he said.
"On another front, key stakeholders are also looking at the possibility of establishing a price stabilisation fund to ensure a better return for our farmers. We think we can get higher and more predictable prices than we can by relying on the present 70 and 30 per cent sugar proceeds sharing formula.
"The FSC has also made a substantial capital investment in cogeneration in its Labasa mill and shortly in its Rarawai mill to give them the ability to produce all the energy they need themselves."
He said this move would not only save costs but enable any surplus energy to be sold to the FEA.
"And it's all part of our overall effort to reduce Fiji's reliance on diesel fuel and lower our billion-dollars-a-year fuel import bill.
"As part of ensuring that this year's crushing season will not face any uncertainties and in my government's commitment to reduce all difficulties for all sugarcane growing stakeholders, I take this opportunity to announce that the dispensation given to all cane lorries last year will continue for this cane crushing season.
"I have already issued a directive to this effect and the Memorandum Of Understanding that was signed last year will be extended."