‘Baseless comments’

FIJI Sugar Corporation executive chairman Abdul Khan has refuted claims by canegrowers that mechanical issues at the Penang mill in Rakiraki have marred operations since crushing began mid last month.

The National Farmers Union and individual growers and lorry operators had raised concerns over the past two weeks that Penang was not operating as well as it should and the stoppages were due to mechanical problems.

“Unfortunately, this is not true,” Mr Khan said.

“Penang processed 2276 tonnes on July 15, 2067 tonnes on July 16 and only 1751 tonnes on July 17 because there was a problem with the crushing mill that needed resetting.

“On Saturday July 18, we processed 2040 tonnes and 1772 tonnes on July 19 because a lorry tyre assembly had accidentally fallen into the cane feeder conveyor causing damage to the cane shedder.

“This caused five hours of stoppage.”

Mr Khan said for the 24 hours to 8am Monday July 20, only 188 tonnes were processed because of lack of cane.

“Under normal operations, we process 2200 tonnes in a 24-hour cycle. So based on that, the growers’ comments are baseless and I am certain lorry cane was processed straight away if there is no other cane in the mill.”

Mr Khan explained that about 1000 tonnes of cane were needed to get started after a stop to ensure efficient processing.

He said cane supply over the weekends continued to be an issue with many growers abstaining from harvesting on Saturdays and Sundays because of religious reasons.

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