5 Feb 2004

Fiji sugar growers call for technical inquiry

7:55 am on 5 February 2004

Growers of sugar cane in Fiji say they want a technical inquiry into the country's ailing sugar industry to recommend the introduction of incentive-based payments.

This view from the Cane Growers Council follows a Fiji visit by experts from India who say 35-million US dollars worth of investment could revive the Fiji industry.

The team has briefed political leaders but its findings have not been released.

Jaqanath Sami, the chief executive of the 22-thousand member Cane Growers Council, says it believes factory management is at the heart of industry problems.

Mr Sami says his group is looking forward to hearing the team's recommendations.

"But we are hoping, and I am sure one of the recommendations that will come and should come -- and I'll be disappointed if it doesn't -- is that there should be an incentive-based cane payments system which will encourage the farmers collectively to produce better quality cane and the miller to extract more sugar from that cane."

Failure on either party, they should be penalised and if somebody does well there'll be an incentive to increase their shares.

Mr Sami says his council recommended such a scheme strongly to the members of the technical team during their visit.