The Bainimarama government and the Ministry of Sugar are very much focussed on ensuring the longevity of the sugar industry. The Bainimarama Government has facilitated, amongst other things, the legal ability of farmers to now obtain longer term leases, a thorough assessment and implementation of efficient cartage systems, efficiency of the sugar mills following the debacle of the Qarase government led upgrade, and continued assistance to farmers.
It is unfortunate that politicians such as Chaudhry, have again engaged in gutter politics and misinformation simply to win political favour with the farmers.
The reality is Chaudhry was minister for sugar for nearly 2 years in the Bainimarama Government. The reality is that he now says that nothing has been done for the farmers since the appointment of the Bainimarama Government but he in fact was a part of it and the Minister responsible. The reality is that he chastised the Qarase government for bringing the sugar industry to ‘its knees’ but now blames the Bainimarama government and is working with Qarase. The reality is that the sugar industry has been neglected for years and plagued by politics. Chaudhry does not mention any of the above. He lacks credibility.
Some of the examples of the true status and current facts pertaining to the sugar industry include the following:
- Increased cane price from $45 to over $60 per tonne;+
- The likely price for the coming season will be $6300 per tonne even though the recent floods have badly affected cane quality and the much weaker Euro;
- Farmers will continue to be paid 70% of the net proceeds from both sugar and molasses. This will not change even under the cane quality payment system;
- Farmers who lost their entire crop during the recent floods have been given a grant of $2,500 per hectare and to assist all farmers, a grant of $1,125 and interest free loan of further $1,125 per hectare is available;
- Continued support of Fairtrade and in Labasa farmers and their communities receive additional benefits such as fertilizer subsidies and replanting grants;
- Establishment of nurseries for the supply of quality cane seed; and,
- Curtailment of juice spillage and theft at the mills
The Ministry of Sugar and FSC will work together with the sugar cane farmers to improve and modernise the Fijian sugar industry.