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SUVA, Fiji Islands (October 16, 2001 – Radio Australia)---Fiji's once strong sugar industry is facing an uncertain future after threats by its major buyer to suspend its contracts.

As Radio Australia correspondent Francis Herman reports, London-based Tate and Lyle has warned Fiji against exporting any further consignments of low-grade raw sugar.

"The warning comes after Fiji recently exported shipments of sugar infested with impurities.

"According to sugar industry sources, the shipments comprised sugar crushed from burned cane and which caused havoc in sugar refineries overseas.

"Despite repeated appeals from local sugar authorities, many Fiji farmers continue to send burned cane to the country's four sugar mills. This has affected machinery at the mills and forced premature maintenance shut downs.

"With the crushing season drawing to an end, farmers are anxious to meet their quotas and quickly harvest standing cane, often resorting to burning. Burning lowers the sugar content in cane.

"Tate and Lyle has warned Fiji that it runs the risk of losing its lucrative overseas export markets if this trend continues.

"Francis Herman, Radio Australia, Suva."

For additional reports from Radio Australia, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Radio/TV News/Radio Australia.

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