EU To Provide 4 Million Euro In Aid To Fiji Sugar Industry

Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

News Release

Secretariat of the Pacific Community Suva, Fiji

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Mr. Marcus Cornaro, Deputy Director General of EuropeAid and Dr. Jimmie Rodgers, Director General of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), officially opened the European Union (EU)/SPC Lautoka office yesterday before signing an agreement to implement micro projects to assist the Fiji sugar industry.

The Implementation of the Micro Projects (IMP) is a 43-month programme with a total budget of EUR 4 million. It will be implemented and managed by SPC’s Land Resources Division (LRD) along with the Improving Key Services to Agriculture (IKSA) project.

According to Dr. Rodgers, the sugar industry has been the mainstay of Fiji’s economy for many years, contributing close to 30% of Fiji’s total agricultural exports in 2012.

‘The industry, however, is currently facing a number of challenges, including a reduction in the number of sugarcane farmers, lack of investment in farms and industry infrastructure, including access roads and milling equipment, and the removal of the EU’s support in terms of preferential access and pricing.’

‘An industry downturn affects many people, including farmers, cane cutters and mill workers, and especially weaker and more vulnerable people, such as women and children and the poor, in general,’ Dr. Rodgers said.

To this end, the EU, under its Accompanying Measures for Sugar Protocol Countries, has responded by funding mitigating programmes with the goal of lessening the adverse effects of changes on those who depend on the Fiji sugar industry.

He added, ‘Under the EU Social Mitigation Programme for 2011, SPC is implementing the IKSA project to provide direct support to cane farmers to improve their practices and supplement their incomes from sugarcane through the production of horticultural crops.’

The IMP Contribution Agreement is funded under the EU Social Mitigation Programme for 2012. Its main objective is to reduce the social, economic and environmental vulnerability of sugarcane farmers and mill workers impacted by sugar industry reforms through the provision of micro-projects.

At least 50 micro-projects will be implemented throughout the Viti Levu and Vanua Levu sugarcane belts. The focus will be in on safe water supply and integrated sanitation, education access, transport systems, rural electrification, infrastructure and healthcare facilities to encourage income-generating activities.

Beneficiaries will include the 200,000 people living in the sugarcane belts whose livelihoods rely, in whole or in part, on sugarcane farming. The project will address the collective infrastructural needs of these communities rather than those of individual farmers. It will also focus on the needs of women in relation to on and off-farm activities.

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