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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center

With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

Fiji Sugar Industry Returning To Former Prominence
Government reforms reportedly reducing substantial debts

By Felix Chaudhary

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, Nov. 7, 2012) – Increased mill efficiency, high sugar content in standing crop and huge reductions in debt are signaling the return of Fiji’s sugar industry to its former glory.

Ministry of Sugar permanent secretary Lieutenant Colonel Manasa Vaniqi said the reforms that government had put in place two years ago were working as evidenced by the increase in mill efficiency and reduction in debt for the Fiji Sugar Corporation (FSC).

"When government took over the FSC in 2010, the miller was in debt to the tune of FJ$175 million [US$98.4 million] and due to reforms and financial readjustments we were able to reduce debt levels to FJ$36 million [US$20.2 million] last year," he said.

"Milling efficiency in terms of tons cane to tons sugar (TCTS) was very high and this has been reduced to just over nine this season. There was a lot of speculation among naysayers and calls for the government to sell off the FSC but we had faith in the reforms and after extensive consultations with experts, we have managed to come through despite two major natural disasters," he added. Lt-Col Vaniqi said the two floods earlier this year had reduced cane production by 400,000 tons resulting in a total crop of 1.6 million tons this year.

"If all goes to plan and barring any major natural disasters next year, our total sugar crop is expected to increase by 600,000 tons next season which should push our sugar production beyond the two million ton mark," he said.

The Sugar PS also said while signs on the local scene pointed to a much improved season in 2013, there were also developments internationally which would also augur well for the sugar industry going forward.

"Our Prime Minister was awarded the vice-chairmanship of the International Sugar Organisation (ISO) council and he will be awarded chairmanship next year when the ISO meets in Nadi for the very first time. This will further boost our reputation as a sugar-producing country and is a good omen for the future of our sugar industry," he said.

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