Fiji’s sugar production has fallen from a peak of 341,000 tonnes in 2000 to 136,000 tonnes in 2010 and farmers are being paid reduced prices for their cane.

These low prices are incompatible with the rising costs of production of cane and the latest projections suggest that if the target of restoring profitability by 2015 is to be reached, it is likely that 20% of the land presently used for cane production, particularly on steep slopes with poor and shallow soils, will be released for other uses.

This week, stakeholders in Fiji’s sugar industry met in Nadi to discuss the first phase of a programme designed to assist cane growers to adjust to the challenges created by the end of the sugar protocol.

The Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) in collaboration with the European Union is part of the implementation team that will look at every aspect of farming, including issues such as climate change, sustainable land management and marketing to assist stakeholders in present and former sugar cane growing areas of Fiji to improve their livelihoods.

In 2011, SPC assisted the sugar-cane growers of the Labasa area to reorganise as a Fair Trade certified cooperative, which enabled them to negotiate an improved price. The big increase in demand for Fair Trade chocolate in the UK has increased demand for Fair Trade sugar, with few countries currently able to supply it.

source: indianweekender

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