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Fiji has already started exploring new sugar markets.
This is to prepare the Fijian sugar industry for post 2017, when the European Union plans to stop the quota system of buying sugar from African, Caribbean and Pacific group of countries.
Fiji Sugar Corporation executive chairman Abdul Khan, who is currently participating in the 13th ACP ministerial conference on sugar at Shangri-La’s Fijian Resort and Spa, Yanuca, said work had already started.
“The biggest issue that is being discussed at this meeting has been what we are to do post 2017,” he said.
“We have already started exploring other markets to sell our sugar.
“We will now explore even further for more markets. We are looking at the Asian markets as well as the Australian and New Zealand markets.
Australia is also a sugar producing country. However, Khan said our advantage was that our sugar is Fairtrade-certified.
“Although the Australians produce sugar, their sugar is not Fairtrade sugar.
“We however, do have that competitive advantage of Fairtrade and we will be capitalising on that,” he said.
Fairtrade certification means Fijian sugar is grown following stringent rules of the Fairtrade Organisation which includes not having any form of child labour involved in the farms and not using chemicals which would have dire effects on the environment, among other requirements.
This season alone, the FSC has forecast to sell 160,000 of sugar to the European Union market.
Khan also gave an update on how they planned to better the sugar industry in Fiji. There are plans for the corporation to take over all forms of transportation of cane from farms to all four mills in the country.
This will enable them to allow a steady flow of cane for crushing and would be able to bring about some synergy in cost-effectiveness between the rail and the road system.
Currently, the corporation looks after all rail transportation of cane and once approved, they will also take over the road transportation.
“We will also regulate all the trucks so that we make sure that they carry the entire load safely and they meet all the requirements that are there and also that the farmers are aware of what they are supposed to pay to the truck drivers for carting the cane,” Khan said.
Khan has also sent a corporation employee to Australia to search for a cane harvester for use in Fiji.
“On the harvesting side, we have a person in Australia at the moment to look for a good second-hand harvester that can be made available for us for trials.
“There are harvesters in Australia which they use on straight land as well as slopes. We want to bring those here so that we can see how it can operate on Fiji’s terrain.
“And then, if anyone is interested in getting the harvesters, they would know what the basic requirements are.”
Crushing at all four mills will come to an end by the end of October.
The tonne of cane to tonne of sugar (TCTS) ratio for this season stands at nine, which is very impressive for the four mills.
“With the TCTS coming down to nine, when three years ago it was around 14, it means that to make one tonne of sugar, we previously needed 14 tonnes of cane, but now we needed only nine tonnes.
“This is very impressive ratio for our mills,” he said.
SOURCE: FIJI SUN/PACNEWS
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