Minister for Sugar, Charan Jeath Singh, has shed light on the challenges faced by farmers during the sugar production and crushing seasons.
Singh attributed these challenges, including mill breakdowns and extended working hours for farmers and cane lorry operators, to the neglect and lack of capital expenditure by the previous government.
Singh expressed his disappointment, stating that the negligence of the previous government was evident in not allocating funds for capital expenditure to maintain and upgrade the mills.
He adds that despite borrowing funds from the Exim Bank of India, the promised repairs and upgrades were not fulfilled, resulting in a continued burden on the industry.
He emphasized that the sugar industry is still repaying the loan to the government, but the machines installed by the previous administration have not functioned effectively.
Singh has highlighted the need for a more strategic approach to address the industry’s challenges.
“As the current minister, and with the full support of the honourable prime minister, we are committed to ensuring the sustainability of the industry. However, we must assess the problems seriously and not take blind shots at what went wrong.”
To address the issues at hand, Singh called for the involvement of experts with a deep understanding of the sugar industry.
He stressed the importance of seeking suggestions from professionals in the field who can provide informed recommendations on when and how to fix the mills efficiently and at the lowest cost possible.
Singh underscored the significance of reviving the sugar industry, which plays a crucial role in the livelihoods of over 200,000 people.
He reiterated the commitment of the government to finding sustainable solutions to the challenges faced by the industry, ensuring its continued contribution to the Fijian economy.