17 Jun 2002

Fiji sugar growers call for production levels to be maintained

7:34 pm on 17 June 2002

The chief executive of Fiji's Sugar Cane Growers Council, Jaganath Sami, says it is critical that production in the sugar industry does not fall again.

Production dropped to two point eight million tonnes last year when previously it was four million tonnes.

Mr Sami says this year's estimated harvest is up to three million tonnes which is enough for Fiji to meet its preferential quota in the European Union and the United States markets.

He says Fiji risks losing this quota if production falls below three million tonnes.

The industry wants the government to restructure it and clear its debts, while the prime minister has offered to ease the land lease crisis by suggesting that the Native Lands Trust Board could offer longer leases.

Mr Sami says while the problems facing the industry are political rather than economic he believes the worst is now over.

"and I hope and I'm confident that the government, the politicians should be able to you know find a solution to this problem. But from the industry perspective we believe that the restructure proposal that has been put, trying to bring the stakeholders together particularly the landowners as part of the industry could change to whole future of the sugar industry"