The Minister for Sugar and Multi Ethnic Affairs Hon. Charan Jeath Singh was accorded a traditional welcome by the Vanua o Wailevu at the Labasa Airport this afternoon (10.01.23).

Visiting the North for the first time after being elected into Parliament, Minister Singh thanked people for their support and called on farmers and landowners to work together to ensure that the industry thrives again.

He said there has been a drastic decrease in cane production over the years with 1.6 million tonnes as last year’s collective total for the country, as compared to 3.2 million tonnes in 1996.

Mr Singh highlighted changes that the Ministry intended to make which includes the remodelling of the Fiji Sugar Corporation (FSC), with its privatisation as their number one task.

He said he had met with the executives of the FSC, Sugar Research Institute, Sugar Cane Growers council, the Sugar Tribunal and has a fair idea of what needs to be done to get the industry going once again.

“I have been speaking to the executives of the FSC board and they have briefed me that FSC has to be remodelled so that we can bring the farmers glory back, bring the industry back to its normal footing and let it be an independent body, where it is not to be financed by Government but by itself," Minister Singh said.

Minister Singh made a plea to landowners for their assistance through the availing of land to cane farmers so cane production could improve.

“We want a win –win situation, where landowners are happy with the payment of leases and we give a better return to farmers on the other hand,” Minister Singh said.

Minister Singh also indicated there were plans to improve the railway system as transportation during harvesting season was very costly to both farmers and millers.

He kick started his Northern Tour today which would continue until Thursday (12.01.23).

Also present was the Assistant Minister for Rural and Maritime Development Hon. Jovesa Vocea.