A PROPOSAL FOR SUGARCANE CROP REHABILITATION AND PROFITABILITY FOR SUGAR INDUSTRY

A BRIEF PROJECT PROPOSAL

FOR THE REHABILITATION OF THE FIJIAN SUGAR INDUSTRY, DEVELOPMENT OF BY-PRODUCTS AND IMPROVEMENT OF THE STANDARD OF LIVING FOR THE FARMERS

by

DR. M. KRISHNAMURTHI, B.Sc. (Hons) M.A. Ph.D. FFIAS

SUBMITTED TO:

HON. MINISTER OF FINANCE GOVT. OF FIJI

[PIR Editor's Note: The following is a taken from an online version of the final report obtained from Fijilive at this link. The document is of poor quality and missing two pages (pages 5 and 12), which is noted in the text below. There are some typos, poor grammar, and inconsistent formatting in the original document which we have attempted to reproduce below, but any other errors are the responsibility of the Pacific Islands Report and a result of the poor image quality of the original document we scanned.] 

1.0 MISSION:

Provide guidance for the rehabilitation of the sugar industry in Fiji and elsewhere where Fiji may have an interest.

Offer solutions for maximizing land use especially the Native reserves.

Help to achieve a production of 460,000 mt of sugar over next four years

Diversify farmers income through relay crops.

2.0 STRATEGIES:-

Crop production

2.1. Provide possible solutions for land use with special reference to Native Land

2.2. Crop Production: -

Establish a powerful Research and Development to support crop production

2.3. Extension: -

Crop production services to the farmers Individual ownership and collective farming. Planting in relation to milling capacities Varietal multiplication Advisory services Nursery programmes Management of farm financing Mechanization Farmer training

2.4. Mechanization

Land and soils management Mechanical harvesting.

2.5 R&D

Sugarcane Breeding Soils, nutrition, water, management. Plant protection:

Control and management of diseases and pests Screening of varieties for pests and diseases.

ANALYTICAL SERVICES: Effective use of labs.

Cane analysis: for varietal selection. Chemical control of sugar manufacture. Soils laboratory to advise farmers on balanced nutrient application. Plants tissue analysis. Undertake molecular studies on contract with US and others. This is relatively cheaper. Data systems for R&D,. crop and milling. Co-product development.

3.0 THE FIJIAN SCENE

The major sugarcane growing areas are located in Western Vitilavu ,and Northern Vanualevu. The soils are generally good with adequate rainfall for sugarcane crop. However supplementary irrigation could increase the yields substantially. Fiji occasionally suffers from drought which should be managed by developing irrigation schemes. Apart from yield increases intercropping with high value crops can be a distinct possibility. The sugarcane belt unfortunately lies in the cyclone belt and therefore cyclones are a major hazard.

4.0 THE CURRENT PROBLEMS

4.1. Matangali Leases. Fiji traditionally had 92000 ha under cane prior to 1990 and produced on an average 460,000 mt of sugar from the four mills with a seasonal recovery of 12.2% to 13.0% (i.e., tones cane/tones of sugar ration of 8.2 to 7.8). The average yield was about 55-60 tonnes per hectare with 40% of the farmers producing 60% of the crop. This also depressed the average yield from 80 tpha to 55 tpha. The major cause was land reservations for land owners. Unfortunately while the concept was good the practice of it did not fit any logic. i.e. the land owner had to lease from NLTB his own land and pay rentals. This is still a serious anomaly. In the case of Fiji the matangali owns the land. NLTB administers the land and members of the matangali have to lease the land from the administrators – in this case the NLTB. It was found that NLTB was and is very slow in facilitating processes.

4.2 Indian Leases:- A large part of land, on expiry of leases reverted to Native Land owners. Two distinct events took place:

o Lands went into permanent reserves with aim of leasing the lands to the members: of the matangali. This became unproductive.

o All homes of the tenant farmers were taken over by the members of the matangali.

This was followed by:- Enmass migration of the Indian farmers to towns and many to new homes overseas, in particular, New Zealand, Australia, Canada and U.S. Along with farmers the qualified young also left. This left a vacuum in the capable farming population coupled with large brain drain.

4.3 And those leases which were renewed were generally allocated to new Indian farmers who were not interested in farming cane. The farms were neglected.

4.4 It was well known all along that the Fijians did not have enough incentives for farming. They had their own serious social problems which was ignored. The laws governing inheritance was one of sharing and not lineage inheritance. The share of the proceed was negligible and hence of no value. As stated earlier they had to lease their own land. Above all there was no financial support from any side due to lack of security. In many cases NLTB failed to disburse monies due to land owners. Large amounts are still outstanding.

In effect neither the successive governments nor NLTB or the chiefs ever contributed to the welfare of the Indigenous Fijian people. The land owners remained poor with poor standard of living. Thus the cropping area fell down to some 60,000 ha with an average of 25 mt per ha.

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4.8 Harvest and Transport.

Harvesting was mechanized without proper studies on its effects on soils and milling.

The aspect of extraneous matter and milling was disregarded.

No proper time frame was given to R&D to align farms for mechanization.

Mechanical harvesting and transport is high.

4.9 Transport

As stated earlier, FSC failed to maintain rail tracks.

The roads are unable to take the loading forced by cane loaded lorries.

The roads are not wide enough to allow free flow of traffic.

In conclusion it may be said that lack of communications among the various groups i.e. Growers Council, NLTB, Fijian Affairs Board and high handed nature of. FSC has led the .industry to the current status of dilapidation. However, NLTB and Fijian Affairs Board which are in effect guardians of the Fijian welfare did little to alleviate the Fiji standard of living.

5.0 SUGGESTED CORRECTIVE MEASURES

5.1 Current Status Assumptions: I

Area under cane 60,000 ha

Productive area 40,000 ha

Yield 50 - 55 tpha 2.2. million mt cane

Sugar 260,000 mt raw Sugar

5.2 Assumptions: II

Crushing capacity: hourly.

5.3. Assumptions III

Land Availability.

It is assumed that the area under cane is as follows:-

Crown land : 20,000 ha

Yanqara estate : 5000 ha

Native land : 50,000 ha

Cropping area: Crown : 18,000 ha

Native : 20,000 ha

6.0 RECOMMENDED ACTIONS

Realignment of Lands:

Individual ownership and collective farming

6.1 The first major step win be to de-reserve all native lands.

6.2 It is obvious that the 4.0 ha farms are uneconomical. Thus lots of 40 to 400 ha to be created and leased to one individual or company without affecting landownership. The ownership will continue to be vested in. the title holder. All investments will be by the lessee. The lease period to a minimum of 75 years or more.

6.3 The profits may be shared in a format acceptable to the land owner and cultivator:-

 The lessee may pay rentals.

 The land owner may undertake share farming. The lessee will create infrastructure and cultivate cane.

 The owners will be employed by the lessee on fortnightly basis. The proceeds will be shared 30 : 60 after costs 30% to the owner.

6.4 The ventures to be financed by Bank or entrepreneurs.

6.5 A body corporate or the Fiji Sugarcane Research Institute Extension wing to provide managerial and technical know how financed by the land owners or lessees through direct deduction from cane proceeds.

6.6 The same procedures can be applied to crown land subject to agreement by the tenant farmer.

6.7 Obviously the whole process will have to be mechanized. This should be undertaken in most economical way possible.

6.8 Mills will have to be changed to accept higher levels of extraneous matter.

6.9 Roads must be improved.

6.10 Rail system revamped and improved.

7.0 HARVEST AND TRANSPORT

7.1 Realign harvesting and delivery systems

7.2 Fabricate and manufacture appropriate transport vehicles

8.0 RESEARCH AND EXTENSION

A separate five year plan will be cast with budgets and manpower. The plan will cover technical aspects of cane growing, budgets and manpower. However, immediately our annual investment of F$5.0 million is envisaged. These monies to be deployed for crop development such as land clearing, preparation and planting apart from routine expenditure.

9.0 CO-PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT

It is recommended that we undertake the following:-

9.1. Production of health sugar

9.2. Single cell proteins

9.3. Organic fertilizers from press mud and effluent

9.4. Produce anhydrous alcohol

10.0 DELIVERABLES

10.1. A master plan will be prepared for crop production in relation to mills, milling and weather and land development programmes.

10.2 A project proposal will be cast to bring under crop all native

land.

10.3 Management of the project will be formulated and implemented.

10.4 Staff: Staff will be rationalized.

10.5 Individual ownership and collective farming. Models will be implemented

10.6 R&D and Extension plan will be formulated with the help of the staff and Research Board.

11.0. STAFF

Advisor consultant : Dr. M. Krishnamurthi Full time staff : By-products 1 Secretary 1 Clerical 1 Driver 1

12.0 INFRASTRUCTURE:

13.0 ADMINISTRATION:

The consultant will report to the Minister of Finance/Sugar or his nominee.

14.0 BUDGETS.

Consultancies : Dr. Krishnamurthi By-products Secretary Clerical Driver Entertainment

15.0 INFRASTRUCTURE

Rentals :  Office : 1               House : 2

Phone etc.

Vehicles (2) : Capital

Vehicles : Running 30%

16.0 TRAVELS

Krishnamurthi (three visits) : US$14,000 (India-Fiji)

Wife (once a year) : US$2000 (India-Fiji)

Inland travels : US$2000

Foreign : US$5000

PART II

STATEMENT OF ORGANIZATIONAL PURPOSE

Sakthi Sugarance Production, Research and Management Services (SSPRMS) was created to fulfill the vacuum in crop production technologies in India and most Asian Countries. The crop production technologies require strong researches and management systems, in particular in the development or suitable varieties, studies on soils and nutrition, plant protection activities etc. The above are possible only with experienced scientists who have access to germplasm for breeding and adopt in innovative researches. SSPRMS already has in its collection 2000 clones developed over past 10 years.

OUR CUSTOMERS

OUR VALUES

WHAT DO WE DELIVER

Project Head:

Dr. M. Krishnamruthi, B.Sc. (Hons), M.S., Ph.D. FFIAS hails from Fiji where the spent 30 years of which 18 as Director of Sugarcane Researches and later Sri Lanka, Thailand and India in establishment of research centres, and implementation of highly profitable programmes. He started his career as Shift Chemist with CSR (Australia) in Fiji and later changed to sugarcane breeding followed by all aspects of sugarcane production supported by powerful researches. Coming from a sugarcane farming background Dr. Krishnamurthi obtained an Hons. and Masters degree in Zoology with Botany from Annama1ai University with 1st class

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