Sugar minister explains factors for poor yield

PS for Sugar Yogesh Karan (left) with Sugar Cane Growers Council CEO Vimal Dutt, FSC CEO Bhan Singh and Minister for Sugar Charan Jeath Singh during a break at the Stakeholders Interactive Workshop at Tanoa Waterfront in Lautoka. Picture: BALJEET SINGH

Sugar Minister Charan Jeath Singh says high soil acidity and low soil nutrients are two of the main contributing factors to low cane production, productivity and poor yield.

He said ultimately affected sugar production and performance of the sugar industry.

Mr Singh shared this with stakeholders in Lautoka while officiating at the Interactive Workshop on Integrated Nutrient Management for Sugarcane in Fiji at Lautoka’s Waterfront Hotel this week.

“In deciphering the downward performance of the sugar industry from past years to present, numerous challenges were highlighted and through the Sugar Research Institute of Fiji data, I understand that the soils in sugarcane belts have become very acidic, where, the pH mostly ranges from 3.2 to 6.0,” he said.

“It has been observed that in Viti Levu about 83 per cent of soils under sugarcane are acidic (pH <6), whereas, more than 95 per cent of soils in Vanua Levu are acidic.

“Basically, the soils have become sick, the fact is apparent and remains that our soils are sick, there is deterioration in soil health, low nutrients and organic matter.”

The minister urged stakeholders to work together to address the pressing threat to the sugar industry which could be exacerbated by the impacts of climate change on crops.

Mr Singh said there was hope as some strategies had been implemented to address soil acidity and increase soil nutrition.

“Government has been providing funding support via fertiliser subsidy program and in previous years has also granted funds for application of liming, green manuring technology and application of mill mud.”

The minister said the funding support by Government would, among other things, continue for respective programs with targets to increase cane production through improved soil health with increased soil nutrients and reduced acidity.

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