FOR the first time stakeholders from the sugar and non-sugar industries gathered to discuss co-operation between the two sectors.
Funded by the European Union under the Improvement of Key Services to Agriculture project, the meeting in Lautoka was attended by members of the Agriculture Ministry, iTaukei Land Trust Board, sugar industry stakeholders, International Trade Centre and the Secretariat of the Pacific Community. Waisiki Gonemaituba, Improvement of Key Services to Agriculture team leader at SPC's Land Resources Division, said the meeting, organised by SPC and the Food and Agriculture Organisation marked a historic chapter in the way forward for the sugar and non-sugar sectors.
"We are all working together to improve farmers, livelihoods, especially those who are being affected by the EU sugar reforms," Mr Gonemaituba said.
"What we are looking at is farm land that is not used for cane cultivation.
"Instead of leaving this land idle, the IKSA project is assisting farmers in growing leguminous crops.
"This not only aids in generating additional revenue for growers, it also assists in improving soil quality."
He said SPC was working with the Fiji Sugar Corporation to develop a mechanism where the two organisations could work together to benefit growers and the sugar industry as a whole.