22 Sep 2005

Oxfam urges EU to help Fiji's sugar industry

2:00 pm on 22 September 2005

The NGO, Oxfam, says the European Union must help Fiji's ailing sugar industry, which will suffer further as Europe cuts the supported prices paid to its own sugar beet producers.

Fiji and other ACP countries are paid the same rate as the local EU farmers, so their returns will fall as the local industry moves towards a more market oriented system.

Oxfam's Shuna Lennon is one of the authors of a report being released this afternoon in Suva, calling for the EU to help the Fiji sugar industry invest in sustainable technology.

Ms Lennon says, for instance, the EU could use some of the money saved from removing subsidies to help Fiji generate power from sugar.

"It would save money, it would save foreign reserves because at the moment a lot of their electricity is generated using diesel which is extremely expensive and inefficient. Switching to what is called bagasse generation would save a lot and second idea is instead of using sugar cae to produce sugar it can be used in part at least to make ethanol which can used in motor vehicles."