8 Mar 2005

Fiji Sugar Corporation plans increased cane production and new equipment

8:18 pm on 8 March 2005

The Fiji Sugar Corporation says it plans to increase cane production and install new equipment in its mills as part of reforms to ensure the industry remains viable.

The FSC chairman, Ross McDonald, says people are aware that they must begin producing high quality sugar at low cost because of the price reductions expected when the preferential agreement with the EU ends in 2007.

He says last year, only three million tonnes was harvested when in previous years, they achieved up to four million tonnes.

Mr McDonald says to improve this they're talking to hundreds of indigenous landowners whose land is lying idle, to encourage them into cane farming, and the FSC has resumed training existing farmers in husbandry techniques.

Mr McDonald says new plant and equipment is also planned for the three mills.

"It's still in the negotiation stage - we're sorting out tender documents so that we can go out for tender for new equipment but we will be installing new plant and equipment in each of the mills which will give us the better quality and there will be efficiencies in the production process."

Mr McDonald says up to 25 percent of the population is directly reliant on the sugar industry for a household income so it's important to ensure it remains viable.