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SAVING SUGAR

Action for change

WHEN the Fijian Prime Minister recently stood up at the recent International Sugar Organisations meeting in London and declared “we do not intend to give up on sugar cane in Fiji,” he was merely telling the world that a lot still has to be done in saving the sugar industry rather than continuing to harp at what were the reasons that brought us to the state of the industry.

Since coming into power in 2006, Frank Bainimarama had put the industry as one of his highest priorities and has taken some key decisions affecting all areas of the industry. And he has succeeded in many areas. Union influence has gone. Government appointees hold key positions in the industry. Appointments of all elected leaders of the Sugar Cane Growers Council were terminated.

Growers Council now has only grower representatives selected by government. Stakeholder-based agencies – the Sugar Commission of Fiji (SCOF), and the Fiji Sugar Marketing Authority, where growers were represented – were dissolved. Sugar Commission of Fiji was the overarching body comprising the miller, growers, industry tribunal and government. Now industry issues are controlled by government or FSC, with growers losing their voice in the industry.

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