Clark: 2017 a disappointing year for industry

FIJI Sugar Corporation chief executive officer Graham Clark says 2017 was a disappointing year for cane production and placed blame squarely on unfavourable weather.

“I think the impact of the drought was a lot more severe than anybody ever thought,” he said.

“You know to be down 18 to 20 per cent it really hurts and it’s something that the management team will take a lot more seriously going forward.”

However, he said despite the low cane production, the season was an improvement from the devastating impact of TC Winston in 2016.

“We crushed a lot more cane than the previous year.

“We had 18 per cent more and we did much better in the factories as a result of that.

“We produced nearly 30 per cent more sugar than we did last year.

“That is a commendable effort. Mill stoppages were better and issues with farmers were better.

“Generally this was a much better season.

“The consensus view from mill workers and farmers was that there was less worrying about criticisms and problems and more focused on how we get better.”

FSC board chairman Vishnu Mohan said the current crop year was affected by adverse weather conditions which had drastically impacted cane development, reducing cane production.

“As a result, our initial target of 2 million tonnes of cane had to be revised downwards and we finally crushed 1.63 million tonnes of cane for 2017,” he said.

“Additionally, the prolonged drought has affected the growers planting schedule for next year’s crop.

“FSC will be working closely with the Sugar Research Institute of Fiji to ensure we get the most optimal yield possible.

“Cane development remains our most critical area to focus going forward but the adverse impact of the weather in 2017 will impact negatively on our plans to grow our cane supply for 2018.”

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