Cane farmers can now claim a penalty of $5 per ton of affected cane in an event of mill breakdown.
The Fiji Sugar Corporation (FSC) Chief Executive, Graham Clark while announcing this new penalty to aid affected farmers says the amount will be determined and paid after a thorough assessment of the breakdown.
“Farmers employ cane-cutters and incur costs for food, and lorry drivers to transport cane to the mills and if you break the chain, the impact goes back to them with the cost of that operation,” said Clark.
” In respect of any notification of a mill break-down that will be longer than six hours, we’ll institute an immediate formal assessment of the situation and it will formally be carried out jointly by FSC staff and affected cane farmers, so we get right to the root of the problem straight away”.
“Through that we’ll determine the volume of any affected cane, the impact in each sector in the cane yard or the mill concerned and have a fully documented assessment that will be signed off by all parties and then institute a breakdown penalty which will be paid by FSC through the cane pay system in the normal way.”
Meanwhile Minister for Local Government, Housing, Environment, Infrastructure and Transport, Parveen Kumar officiated at the opening of the 2018 crushing season at the Rarawai Mill in Ba.
Kumar says the industry is here to stay.
“Some of these sugar politicians remain repeating their old doom and gloom stories- what they forget to mention is that sugar remains the lifeblood of towns like Ba, and the main source of income and livelihood for many of the families,” he said.
Located on the banks of the Ba River, the Rarawai Mill was inundated with floodwaters, silt and debris during consecutive tropical cyclones in April this year and has undergone extensive repairs.
“For months after this, the Rarawai Mill is ready to start its 2018 crushing season and it’s a very commendable effort, with much credit to the resolve and resilience of the Rarawai team,” Kumar said.
The Rarawai Mill is expected to crush a total of 595,000 tonnes of cane this year, with 486,000 from within the Rarawai sector and a further 127,000 tonnes from Penang sector in Rakiraki.
“The FSC has also invested in refurbishing this mill and the maintenance of both its 5 MW and 4MW turbo generators was carried out this year,” Kumar added.
Four new batch vacuum pans have also been added to its production line to advance throughput and recovery and similar to the FSC’s other mills in Lautoka and Labasa, a 2000 kVA stand-by diesel generator has been installed to improve plant stability and plant protection.