Acting Prime Minister and Minister for Finance Professor Biman Prasad says the sugar industry has really suffered in the last 15 years and a significant investment is required to revive what was the backbone of Fiji’s economy.
Speaking to the media yesterday, Prof Prasad said sugarcane production has significantly dropped to 1.7 million tonnes from 3.5 million tonnes since 2006.
Prof Prasad the sugar industry is plagued with the poor maintenance of its infrastructures around the country and to make matters worse, farmers were short-changed by the previous Government by $13 million.
He said that the Coalition Government is making sure that the full grant is received by sugarcane farmers.
“Government has already made two payments to farmers and has paid over the $85 per tonnes… with one more payment is due soon.
Prof Prasad saiid the interim Bainimarama Government that was ushered in 2006, destroyed the partnership the Fiji Sugar Corporation had with the Sugar Cane Growers Council.
He said the relationship fostered cooperation and partnership with the Fiji Sugar Corporation and the Council, the Fiji Sugar Cane Growers Fund and the Sugar Cane Research Institute.
“These institutions can work closely now with the Fiji Sugar Corporation to address some of these fundamental issues which farmers are facing.”
He claims mismanagement and the lack of infrastructure investment into the sugar industry led to its collapse.
“Obviously! The investment that needed to be made to keep the tramlines and the rail networks up to date was spent elsewhere. This caused farmers big time.”
“Cartage of cane by trucks has become too expensive. Now significant investment is needed to bring all this back,” Prof Prasad added.