$83m bill for sector

THE initial damage bill for the sugarcane industry could increase or decrease from the estimated $83million announced early this week, says Fiji Sugar Corporation executive chairman Abdul Khan.

“We will know the true picture in about 10 days when a detailed survey of the industry is completed,” he said.

Mr Khan said the number of sugar mills that would operate during the 2016 harvest and crush season would depend on the results of the survey and regeneration of damaged crops.

“My thoughts at the moment are that we will harvest this season but the question that remains is how we will process that.

“If we are in a situation where we’re getting 1.3 million tonnes then great. But if we will only harvest 0.5 million, then running all three mills may not be the best option.

“Our initial review has not been a good one — in two weeks we will have a better idea.

“If we look at the crop in the areas most affected by Severe Tropical Cyclone Winston, there is a mixture of crop damage.

“Some of the cane have had the tops broken off by the strong winds and these obviously will not be able to survive.

“On the other hand, we have some crops that were only flattened and these should grow after a while.”

The Fiji Sugar Corporation and Sugar Cane Growers Council conducted an initial assessment of the damage caused by Severe TC Winston to crops and infrastructure.

The total damage bill was pegged at $83m with $63m attributed to crop damage, $10m to mill infrastructure and $10m to farmers’ homes.

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