Plea to involve growers in talks

ANY plan to take the sugar industry forward must be done in consultation with the sector’s biggest stakeholder, the sugarcane grower.

This was the view of National Farmers Union general secretary and former prime minister Mahendra Chaudhry.

He made the comment during submissions to the Standing Committee on Economic Affairs on the Reform of the Sugar Cane Industry Bill in Lautoka last week.

“Farmers have been informed there is a strategic action plan prepared by the Fiji Sugar Corporation, but where is it?” he asked.

“The plan must be put to the test, scrutinised and discussed.

“Growers need to be involved. They need to be looked after and involved in the process. The fact of the matter is if there is no cane, there is no sugar and no industry.”

FSC executive chairman Abdul Khan said the miller’s board had signed off on the strategic action plan two months ago.

“We all know you can’t have a strategic action plan without other stakeholders being involved,” Mr Khan said.

“We’ve made the plan aware to the select committee, to the Prime Minister and to financiers. We will do the same to farmers and lorry drivers because we believe they need to be empowered.

“FSC is one of the leaders of the industry and we need to ensure what we do is for the benefit of the industry.”

Under the plan, the FSC hopes to achieve a 3.5million tonne crush and sugar production of 437,000 tonnes by 2020.

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