Director of Planning, Policy, and Research for the Ministry of Sugar Industry, Reshmi Kumari presented Fiji’s perspective on climate change and sugarcane production at the 3rd International Conference & Exhibition on “Sustainability: Challenges & Opportunities in Global Sugar Industry”.
The event took place from January 12 to 14, 2024 at the Vasantdada Sugar Institute in Pune, India.
Kumari, a Fiji representative presented at the plenary session, highlighted Fiji’s declining cane yield and production due to climate-related events, including flooding, salt-water intrusion, soil erosion, and drought, which have contributed to 20-30 per cent loss of cane production in Fiji over the years.
The conference, attended by over 2,500 participants from 28 countries, provided a platform for Kumari to discuss the challenges and opportunities faced by Fiji and other nations in the sugar industry.
She further emphasised the importance of international collaboration in addressing common issues such as climate change, labor shortages, and high production costs.
Kumari underscored Fiji’s need for advanced research and technology adoption to bolster our sugar industry.
She further expressed optimism about leveraging shared technologies from other nations, emphasizing the potential for maximizing profits by increasing yield and reducing per-unit costs.
Countries with advanced sugar industries showcased innovative technologies, biotechnologies including computer-based Artificial Intelligence (AI) simulation technologies, such as remote sensing – Drones, and data analytical tools – Geographical Information System (GIS).
These technologies aim to enhance decision-making, mitigate labor scarcity, reduce cultivation costs, and minimise the impact of climate change.
For instance, spraying by drones can take just 10 minutes in an acre, while quality agro-inputs can increase yield by 20-30 per cent per hectare.
The conference featured a diverse exhibition with 250 stalls, where businesses, scientists, service providers, and researchers displayed cutting-edge technologies spanning from farm to sugar factory.