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Sugar remains the mainstay of the rural sector

The collapse of the sugar industry would bring with it untold hardship to the rural community in the sugar belt as well as to those in the urban centres who depend on it for their livelihood - canecutters, mill workers and businesses.

It would also hit hard the incomes of the landowners who benefit substantially from the lease moneys paid to them.

#Pic: File picture at the FSC AGM in 2021

This was the warning from National Farmers Union general secretary Mahendra Chaudhry to the annual general meeting of the Fiji Sugar Corporation in Lautoka this morning.

Farmers must be given a fair voice in the affairs of the sugar industry if it is to survive from its down ward plunge, Mr Chaudhry told the meeting.

He said the industry today was paying the price for years of misdirected policies imposed on it by the Fiji First government.

"The dismantling of its tripartite governance structure in 2010 by Bainimarama marginalized the growers completely, giving total control to FSC and the Sugar ministry.

"This has to be reversed to win back the confidence of the growers,” Mr Chaudhry said.

He assured the meeting that NFU, as the largest growers union, was prepared to assist in the industry's rejuvenation process provided the growers were given due recognition.

He said the union had been calling for an all industry stakeholders' conference to discuss a road map for its recovery. Unfortunately, the FF government did not entertain the idea. He urged the Coalition government to take an inclusive approach.

Sugar exports and local sales earned around $205 million last year. FSC recorded an operating loss of $23m for the year.


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