22 Nov 2007

Time running out for Fiji Sugar

8:04 am on 22 November 2007

A leading Fiji economist says the time has already run out for reforming the country's sugar industry and the government should not consider expanding it.

The associate professor of economics at the USP Dr Biman Prasad, says the dire situation has arisen partly because of political instability in the last two decades and partly because of the failure of sugar industry leaders to understand the impending changes to the sugar price regime.

Dr Prasad says because of its historical and ethnic structure, issues such as expiring land leases for mainly ethnic Indian farmers and the unwillingness of many indigenous Fijians to lease land, any reform will present special challenges.

He says the interim government should not consider expanding the industry and any talk of bringing its glory days back is not economically viable.

Dr Prasad says there is a systematic move by sitting farmers to get out of the industry and the shift in rural populations to urban centres is proof of that.