London: Fiji may not be ranked among the world’s largest sugar producers but our experiences as a Pacific nation proves that we have overcome challenges of geography to build global networks of distribution for Fijian-made, sewn and grown products.


“As a climate-vulnerable economy, we are fast becoming a global hub of innovation in building agro-resilience and in the face of rising volatility in the sugar market, we’ve deployed smart policies to grant our cane growers stability and help them seize new opportunities.”


Prime Minister Hon. Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama made these remarks at the 56th Session of the International Sugar Organisation Council meeting in London yesterday.


“Fiji has built a proud reputation among world buyers for producing high quality sugar but we all know that quality alone cannot guarantee success in a market where global supply is ominously outweighed by demand,” Prime Minister Bainimarama said.


“To secure sustainable prosperity for our growers and every family that relies on the success of Fijian sugar, we must not only build resilience to the impacts of a changing climate but to the changing dynamics of the world market.


“Adapting to these realities means completely re-imagining how we grow cane in Fiji, doing away with tradition in favour of innovation.”


Prime Minister Bainimarama also took centre stage his government’s initiatives and reforms, most of which are presently being implemented to assist cane farmers and the sugar industry.


“Among other innovative initiatives, we’re achieving a more competitive scale by transitioning away from small-holder farms to large-scale commercial cane farming and this brings smaller growers together through joint venture systems. Also addressing our aging farmer population through the incentivisation of young Fijians to enter the industry by directly assisting them with the acquisition of land,” he added.


“To combat labour shortages, we plan to mechanise over 70 per cent of cane farms in Fiji. We’re also placing a new focus on improving food and financial security for our farmers by adopting intercropping farming models.


“We have an army of researchers working to lift the standard of our industry as a whole, from the resilience of the seeds we plant to the efficiency of the mills that crush our cane.”


The Head of Government highlighted that these transitions alternatively reduces the cost of burden on our farmers.


“With every challenge we solve and every stride we make in building resilience, we secure a more certain future for cane growers and all farmers.


“Fiji stands ready to listen and work with our fellow ISO members to confront the challenges on the horizon for this industry.”


Meanwhile, Fiji has been elected, along with 16 other member countries, to be part of the ISO Council Administrative Committee next year.