30 Jan 2017

Questions need to be asked about Fiji sugar - academic

1:14 pm on 30 January 2017

A Fiji sugar expert says hard questions need to be asked about the future of Fiji's sugar industry.

Sugar cane trucks in Fiji's western division.

Sugar cane trucks in Fiji's western division. Photo: RNZ / Alex Perrottet

Last week Zimbabwe-born Graham Clark was announced as the new CEO of the Fiji Sugar Corporation and a hold was put on a number of projects.

The proposed ventures were seen as part of the industry's diversification programme aimed at strengthening its future, but the FSC says there is a need to consolidate.

The sugar industry has suffered in recent years, impacted by plummeting international sugar prices and cyclone damage to crops.

Academic Padma Lal said the farming sector and number of growers had declined and there was a lack of confidence in the production sector.

Dr Lal said nations were also beginning to talk about measures like sugar taxes in a health conscious era.

"These are changes that are taking place that nobody can deny. It is important to look at and ask honestly, can Fiji sugar's industry survive? And if so, in what condition, at what scale and producing what kinds of products."