Fix mills first, says farmer

Fiji Sugar Corporation’s Lautoka Mill began the crushing season yesterday. Picture: REINAL CHAND

Fiji Sugar Corporation’s Lautoka Mill. Picture: REINAL CHAND

“WE can produce more than two million tonnes of sugar cane but all we ask is for the mills to be fixed first.”

This was the plea of prominent sugarcane farmer Jain Kumar to Fiji Sugar Corporation executives in Lautoka this week.

“If you are a truck driver and you have to wait for 24 hours to off-load cane at the mill, how would you feel?” Mr Kumar asked.

“Please fix the mills first and the farmers will produce the required tonnage of cane.”

FSC chief executive officer Graham Clark said the challenge for the miller in all the three factories was to identify and maintain the old bits of plants that were still there.

“We cannot refurbish three factories all at once so what we are trying to do is to target areas that we think will let us down and fix those first,” Mr Clark said.

The FSC has set a target of 3.5million tonnes of cane by 2023.

However, farmers have raised concerns that the mills were barely able to process less than two million tonnes of cane at present.

Many have questioned the push to increase cane production until the FSC was able to guarantee the mills would efficiently crush cane with minimal disruption.

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