Bid to identify priority areas in industry

GOVERNMENT is preparing to conduct a review of the sugarcane industry — from farm to mill — in a bid to identify priority areas that need immediate attention.

This was the word from Sugar Ministry permanent secretary Yogesh Karan.

Speaking to The Fiji Times, he said there were issues across the sugar landscape from ageing mill machinery, decrepit rail transport networks to inefficient cane production.

“We have to do a total review of the entire industry because we have farms progressively unable to increase yield, rail systems that have suffered neglect over the years and mills with machinery that are falling apart,” he said.

“I have visited mills overseas where the entire factory is mechanised and there are huge mills operated by about 20 people, whereas ours are very labour intensive and this is something we seriously need to look at.

“And one thing that has spoken about a lot is the rail system and yet nothing has been done about it.

“We have to review it to see how much work needs to be done and how we can go about fixing it because it is the cheapest mode of transport.

“Other countries have developed their rail network while we have neglected ours.

“And one thing that needs to be acknowledged is the fact that these issues did not suddenly prop up in the last few years, this has accumulated over the past few decades.

“Instead of pointing fingers, we have to join hands and work together to address these issues.”

Mr Karan said the overarching need for the review was to ensure that the cost of cane and sugar production was reduced.

“We have to reduce industry costs as much as possible to ensure the long-term sustainability of the industry.”

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