Farmer: Increasing yield per hectare vital

Fiji Sugar Corporation CEO Graham Clark respond to queries raised by farmers during a Sugar Policy Consultation in Nawai Nadi. Picture: REINAL CHAND/FILE

INCREASING sugarcane yield per hectare on existing farmland is key to increasing cane production, says a canefarmer.

Nadi canegrower and former parliamentarian Prem Singh said increasing yield per hectare did not require additional land.

Fiji Sugar Corporation (FSC) chief executive officer Graham Clark said they had carried out a detailed assessment regarding the issue.

“We looked back on history, 70,000 hectares under cane and determined that we don’t need 70,000ha to produce what we need,” he said.

“About 2.2 million tonnes is the break-even point for this industry, so we’re a little off there, hope to get there in the next year or so.

“Two years ago, we had 37,000ha under cane. That’s now reached to just under 40,000ha and we believe we need to get to 50,000ha.”

Mr Clark said reaching this amount would mean they would be able to combine the 50,000ha with higher yield.

“Together with higher yield and bigger area, we would get to the three million tonnes of cane that we need.

“We’ve got to be careful and leave enough land to put in place proper farming practices, so leaving a ratoon in for 20 years or 25 years has got to stop.

“Eight years is the optimum. In India, it’s five, so you replant regularly on that cycle.

“As you know, your yield will come back to 50 to 60 tonnes per hectare straightaway.”

He said with the land area, yield improvement program and fallowing and replant program, FSC had enough to work on to get the crop back.

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