Wagner: Crucial to empower canefarmers

Stakeholders of the sugar industry at the opening of the Bulivou Rd in Seaqaqa yesterday. Picture SERAFINA SILAITOGA

THE European Union’s head of delegation to Fiji and the Pacific, Christoph Wagner believes it is crucial to empower canefarmers because it will benefit the industry, making it competitive in the future.

In commissioning the newly upgraded 30 kilometres of cane access road at Bulivou, Seaqaqa yesterday, Mr Wagner said the EU Rainforest Fiji funded project would now allow farmers to use machines on their farms through the improved access road.

“Farmers can have access to machines and come up with bigger quantity of sugar during crushing season,” he said.

“It is crucial to enhance the quality of sugar for Fiji otherwise the sugar sector won’t be competitive in the future.

“That is one of the reasons the European Union has come in because we are a big market for Fiji sugar and we hope we will remain a market but it is very competitive.

“Therefore, it is important to increase quantity and have a good strategy in the next three to five years to make the sugar industry viable.”

Pacific Community (SPC) director general Dr Colin Tukuitonga, whose team worked with the EU and Government, described the project as an improvement to the livelihoods of farmers.

“The SPC is extremely happy to be working with farmers and communities that traditionally have a high-income dependency upon the production and harvesting of sugarcane,” he said.

“We hope that the road rehabilitation works will enhance development and further improve transportation for farmers and lead to improved livelihoods for families and communities.

“We have also worked in close partnership with the Government of Fiji to rehabilitate cane access roads on Vanua Levu and the positive results of this collaboration are evident here in Bulivou.”

The road upgrade will benefit 90 farmers in Macuata.

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