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Sugar industry failed to expand in 15yrs: Prasad

 

Jul 28, 2022 04:33:27 PM

National Federation Party Leader Biman Prasad says the sugar industry has not been able to expand in the last 15 years under the Fiji First Government
 
Professor Prasad said the Government keeps making excuses that the failure in the industry’s expansion was because of land leases.
 
He also said the key issue within the industry and the success of the Fiji Sugar Corporation will depend on cane production.
 
"We now have come to this the answer lies in the reduction of one's Fiji's economic lifeblood to a pocket size industry in the last 15 years."
 
"Both and the Bainimarama Boom and the Fiji First Governments and we need to state this fact that it is not defeated. Going back it has to be understood."
 
"The sugar cane production declined from 3.2 million tonnes in 2006 before the military coup to 1.4 million tonnes last year."
 
"Sugar production declined from 310,000 tonnes in 2006 and 240,000 tons last year. The number of active growers declined by 6000 from 18,000 in 2006 to 212 1000 last year."
 
He further highlighted that despite hearing that this Government provided help to the farmers, they do not say that the largest and most important stakeholders in the industry, the growers, have been voiceless. 
 
"The Government never mentioned that because of the military coup in 2006, we lost, growers in this country lost $350 million grant that was provided by the European Union over a seven-year period from 2007. It was all lost."
 
"We want this industry to expand. Unfortunately in the last 15 years, it has not expanded not notwithstanding the entire difficulties of Cyclone and all that in 15 years."
 
"The industry has not expanded and we hear time and again and time and again from our friends from the other side that it was just because of the land leases."
 
"But in the last 15 years, the prime minister himself has been the chair of the board; the Government looks after the state land."
 
"And so in 15 years, we should have sorted out at least some of those issues so that we could explain to the industry what I see happening here."
 
"It's not just about FSC. The key issue within the industry and the success of the FSC will depend on cane production. If we do not produce enough sugarcane, then everything else is dependent on it."
 
"And if we don't produce, you don't expand, increase sugarcane production, we are not going to grow the industry and never in the history of this country."
 
By Romeka Ronena 
 

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