External pressure

FIJI Sugar Corporation executive chairman Abdul Khan said while cane growers could be reassured of Government’s commitment to the industry, global challenges continued to put a big strain on the continued assistance.

Mr Khan said farmers had to be made aware of the internal and external pressures that affected the industry, like the current crisis — traditional buyer Tate & Lyle Sugars’ decision to cease purchasing Fairtrade sugar from Fiji.

Speaking to representatives of Fiji’s three cane producer associations in an emergency meeting in Nadi yesterday, facilitated by the Network of Asia Pacific Producers, he said many farmers were unaware of the daily challenges the industry faced.

“We had to borrow $14million this year to maintain the $80 per tonne price to growers but it will get increasingly difficult to do this,” Mr Khan said.

“It is important that farmers know exactly what we’re dealing with. In 2011, we were selling sugar at close to US 20cents per pound and this has fallen by about 50 per cent to US 10.9cents per pound today.

“FSC does not sell raw sugar willy nilly. We work overtime to ensure every sale is of benefit to the industry. This means looking at foreign exchange rates, market prices and other issues to ensure our growers get the best possible price all the time.”

Mr Khan said it was no secret the end of preferential quota access to the European Union market in September 2017 would affect the industry.

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