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