9 Nov 2005

Fiji Cane Growers Association expresses reservations about restructuring

4:50 pm on 9 November 2005

The Cane Growers Association in Fiji is welcoming news that the restructuring of the industry is to begin following a big loan from India's Exim bank to the Fiji Sugar Corporation, the FSC.

India's state-owned Export-Import bank is loaning the FSC a total of 51 million U.S. dollars to modernise its four sugar mills in order to make them more efficient, and thus, more competitive in the world environment.

But, the general-secretary of the Cane Growers' Association, Bala Dass, says other areas also need to be looked at.

"The restructuring of the mills is okay but at the same time, if you don't restructure the rail system, the cheapest system of transporting cane to the mills. And, at the same time, if you do not resolve the land problem which is the major reason for the decline in the production of sugar, so those are my reservations."

Mr Dass says the government is planning a scheme to help farmers which will be worth 53 million U.S. dollars over six years.

He says farmers can apply for assistance to move from sugar to other crops if their cane output is uneconomic.