Fiji Sugar Corporation Needs To Make 'Sweeping Changes' Over Next Few Years

CEO presents Strategic Action Plan for next 5 years

By Felix Chaudhary

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, June 13, 2017) – The Fiji Sugar Corporation is promising sweeping changes to its organisational structure, all designed to improve milling efficiencies, increase cane production, reduce production costs for farmers and improve field officer operations.

CEO Graham Clark also said during a briefing on the company's Strategic Action Plan 2018-2022 that marketing strategies adopted by in the past few months resulted in new and lucrative opportunities for Fiji sugar.

He said once implemented, the changes could result in up to $50 [US$24] more per tonne in farmers' pockets and this would not only address concerns raised by existing growers — it would also act as an incentive to attract younger farmers into the industry.

[PIR editor's note: On June 13, 2017 Fiji Times reported that 'The next two years will be the toughest for the sugar industry in Fiji, says Fiji Sugar Corporation chief executive officer Graham Clark. ... Mr Clark said if they could increase production and lower costs over the next two years, there would be a positive change.']

"We have been engaging with farmers over the past few weeks and everybody wants the same thing," he said.

"So we are approaching the issues as a team — from the lorry operators to farmers to FSC."

Mr Clark said the area under cane had reduced from 70,000 hectares to 38,000ha and this had to be increased to 50,000ha. This was an immediate priority and to do this the FSC would venture into large scale cane farming by cultivating 5000ha of land.

"It is not a long-term thing and FSC has no aspiration of becoming a long-term farmer.

"Once we develop these farms, we will use them as a means to attract young people back into the industry."

He said soil fertility had declined and a new partnership was being forged with the Sugar Research Institute of Fiji to increase fertility levels on farms.

To help reduce farming costs, Mr Clark revealed an ambitious plan where the FSC would invest in mechanical equipment for land preparation, planting and harvesting which would be hired out to growers at cost.

He said this would bring hire rates for private operators down and reduce farmers costs.

Mr Clark said the FSC would reduce transport costs for farmers by upgrading the 760km rail network.

He also said field officers would also be closely scrutinised to ensure they provided effective support services to farmers.

[PIR editor's note: On June 13, 2017 Fiji Times reported that 'Government has given the Fiji Sugar Corporation $400 million over the past 10 years, says board chairman Vishnu Mohan. ... And 60 per cent or $240m was spent on canegrowers, he said.']

Fiji Times Online.
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