Two new sugarcane varieties are expected to be introduced to cane farmers in Fiji.
The Sugar Research Institute of Fiji has approved two new varieties after conducting more than a decade of tests to find additional sugarcane breeds to be produced alongside the dominant Mana variety.
A research officer at the Institute, Prem Naidu, told Beverley Tse how he anticipates the new varieties, to be released later this year, will boost the sugar industry.
NAIDU: "One of the varieties - it's still in the numbering system - we've numbered LF-4694. This variety is basically very much similar to Mana, in terms of producing the sugar tonnage and the sugar yields also are very good. But the good feature about this particular variety, it is what we call an early-to-mid maturing variety. And the sugar industry in Fiji actually has a limited number of early-to-mid maturing varieties. So this variety will definitely fit into that early-to-mid category. So in that way the farmers will benefit by planting these varieties, because Fiji is moving towards introducing a payment system where farmers will be paid on cane quality. One of the aspects of cane quality that the industry is looking at is to have improved sugar production. So this variety will definitely improve the sugar production, as it's early-to-mid maturing, compared to Mana."
TSE: "What about the other variety?"
NAIDU: "The other variety is called LF-04448. This variety has a high fibre content and this is a mid-to-late season maturing variety. It has got very tall stalks, they are more than 3.5m to 4m tall. So this variety will be preferred because it does not fall off easily and it has a high fibre content. So, basically, when you have fibre content you can use the fibre for electricity generation. So later on, the plan for the sugar industry is to have electricity co-generation. So this variety will help in that generation."
TSE: "In terms of generating electricity from this variety, what does it take to achieve that?"
NAIDU: "Basically, electricity generation, or what they term co-generation, it is a major component of the sugar industry world-wide. A lot of countries that produce sugar, they go for co-generation. The electricity that is generated through co-generation is used by the mill. Apart from what is used by the mill, sometimes surplus power is left, and that is normally sold in the national grid. So what we're trying to say is with this variety LF-04448, once this variety goes into production and we have a substantial amount, that will help in the co-generation aspect of the sugar industry."