PS Karan Urges FSC Sugar Mills To Com­pete Against With Each Other

Fiji Sun - - SUNBIZ - CHARLES CHAM­BERS RARAWAI, BA Feed­back: charles.cham­bers@fi­jisun.com.fj

Per­ma­nent Sec­re­tary for Sugar, Yo­gesh Karan said it was im­por­tant for the in­dus­try that the three sugar mills op­er­ate with a Tonne of Cane per Tonne of Sugar (TCTS) of 9.0 or be­low.

He then chal­lenged the three mills, Labasa, Lau­toka and Rarawai in Ba, to com­pete as the dis­tricts did on the soccer fields with an award to be pre­sented to the best achiever.

While open­ing the crush­ing sea­son at Rarawai Mill yes­ter­day, Mr Karan said the cor­po­ra­tion was aim­ing to achieve a TCTS of 9.9 as com­pared to 10.9 last year but chal­lenge the mills to bring the fig­ure to nine or be­low.

“In terms of Rarawai, this mill will serve cane farm­ers from Raki­raki, Tavua and Ba dis­tricts and we ex­pect this sea­son to be progress well as nec­es­sary prepa­ra­tions have been car­ried out well in ad­vance in all ar­eas; har­vest­ing, trans­porta­tion and milling,” Mr Karan said.

The com­pany has car­ried out and com­pleted all ma­jor main­te­nance work last year and this year to fix most of the is­sues at the mill.

Among this were the re­fur­bish­ment of boiler num­ber four that now has in­creased the boiler ef­fi­ciency from 65 per cent to 100 per cent.

The water pumps and one pan tube were re­placed this year to im­prove plant re­li­a­bil­ity and reduce sugar loss while the OHS is­sues re­lated to ash from boiler have also been rec­ti­fied to pro­vide safe work en­vi­ron­ment for all those work­ing near and in­side the mill.

Mr Karan said a to­tal of 728,280 tonnes of cane will be har­vested from the Rarawai and Pe­nang area this sea­son.

“Of this, ap­prox­i­mately 578,280 tonnes will be crushed in Rarawai to pro­duce a to­tal of 58,295 tonnes of sugar.

“In com­par­i­son to last year where 487,279 tonnes was crushed to pro­duce 44,830 tonnes of sugar, the cane and sugar pro­duc­tion this year from Rarawai mill will in­crease by 20 per cent and 30 per cent re­spec­tively.”

Rail­way sys­tem

Mr Karan praised FSC in up­grad­ing the rail lines which would in­crease trans­porta­tion of har­vested sugar cane to the mils through rail and lessen trans­porta­tion cost to the grow­ers.

He said talks with the In­dian Gov­ern­ment on the rail sys­tem has been put on hold be­cause of the COVID-19 pan­demic but talks were still on­go­ing.

Gov­ern­ment sup­port to the sugar in­dus­try Mr Karan said Gov­ern­ment had again al­lo­cated a to­tal of $4 mil­lion to cater for cane cartage costs of farm­ers that trans­fer cane from Pe­nang to Rarawai mill.

In last three years, Gov­ern­ment has spent $14.78 mil­lion to as­sist grow­ers to cart their cane from Pe­nang to Rarawai mill.

“As part of mill ra­tio­nal­i­sa­tion to bal­ance cane sup­ply in Lau­toka and Rarawai mills, FSC is trans­fer­ring cer­tain amount of cane to the Lau­toka mill from Rarawai.

“A to­tal of $5.0 mil­lion was used from the cane cartage pro­gram to as­sist 1,148 grow­ers to cart 145,809 tonnes of cane from Pe­nang to Rarawai and Lau­toka mill in 2019.

“This year, FSC plans to trans­fer a to­tal of 150,000 tonnes to Lau­toka mill from Rarawai.

“To ease the short­age of lor­ries, Gov­ern­ment had al­lo­cated a to­tal of $5.9 mil­lion for FSC to pro­cure lor­ries.

FSC will de­ploy 23 lor­ries for Tavua and Pe­nang ar­eas.

Cane Ac­cess Roads

Mr Karan has warned of un­scrupu­lous deal­ings in re­gards to works on farm ac­cess roads in the past and has called for more vig­i­lance.

“Funds have also been pro­vided for up­grade of cane ac­cess road to en­sure that all har­vestable cane is carted to the mills.

“I have been in­formed that by en­gag­ing more con­trac­tors this year, the up­grad­ing works is pro­gress­ing well and al­most 40 per cent of the cane ac­cess roads have been re­paired to date.

Last year, about 1210 cane ac­cess roads were up­graded in Pe­nang and Rarawai mill ar­eas.

Me­chan­i­cal Har­vesters

“This year, we ex­pect more cane to be me­chan­i­cally har­vested.”

Mr Karan said Gov­ern­ment’s fo­cus on mech­a­ni­sa­tion was to bring ef­fi­ciency and reduce har­vest­ing costs of the grow­ers with 26 me­chan­i­cal har­vesters to be op­er­at­ing in Rarawai and Pe­nang mill area this year of which 13 were pur­chased with $90,000 Gov­ern­ment grant for each one.

“An­other four har­vesters will ar­rive in the coun­try soon.”

With the in­crease in cane es­ti­mate for this sea­son, there was a huge de­mand for cane cut­ters and those in­ter­ested in cane cut­ting were to ap­proach the FSC and Sug­ar­cane Grow­ers Council to regis­ter their in­ter­ests af­ter which nec­es­sary ar­range­ments will be made with the grow­ers.

Cane Plant­ing pro­gramme - Rarawai and Pe­nang

Un­der the cane plant­ing pro­gramme, a to­tal of 1,245 hectares of cane were planted in Pe­nang and Rarawai mill ar­eas in 2018/2019 fi­nan­cial year and this equated to 62,500 tonnes of cane. Mr Karan said a to­tal of 85 new farm­ers were as­sisted in last two years with 60 per­cent of the grant re­cip­i­ents be­ing iTaukei farm­ers.

In an ef­fort to pro­mote ef­fi­ciency in land prepa­ra­tion and cul­ti­va­tion seven in­di­vid­ual farm­ers and seven co-op­er­a­tives have been as­sisted with sets of trac­tors and im­ple­ments.

“I urge all cane grow­ers to put in all ef­forts to har­vest all cane and de­liver it to the mills to sup­port the cane crush­ing for this year.

Photo: Charles Cham­bers

From left: Per­ma­nent Sec­re­tary for Sugar Yo­gesh Karan and Fiji Sugar Cor­po­ra­tion chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Gra­ham Clark af­ter the open­ing of the cr­ish­ing sea­son at Rarawai Mill in Ba on June 23, 2020.

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