The Fiji Sugar Corporation has failed to meet its target for sugar production for the 2019 season.
In the Corporation’s 2019 Annual Report, chairman Vishnu Mohan wrote that FSC was “envisaging” a 2 million tonne cane production and sugar output in excess of 200,000 tonnes for the 2019 season.
But the three mills crushed only 1.8m tonnes of cane producing 169,000 tonnes of sugar in the 2019 season.
Mill Cane (t) Sugar (t) TCTS
Lautoka 657,084 58,439 11.2
Rarawai 487,279 44,830 10.9
Labasa 661,916 65,433 10.0
Total 1,806,279 168,702 (av) 10.7
Shortfall 193,621 31,298
Target 2,000.000 200,000
FSC has been pursuing the 2 million tonne target for the last 8 years without success, despite the millions it spent on cane development projects.
Likewise, the overall TCTS ratio of its mills has not improved since 2014 when it was 8:1 – its 2019 ratio was 10:7. It now takes 2.6 tonnes more cane to make a tonne of sugar – a huge loss to the industry – 70% of which is borne by the farmers.
Had the 8:1 ratio been maintained, a sugar make of 222,961 would have been achieved from the same crop – a difference of 54,260, worth around $35m.
It needs to be mentioned that in 2014 a technical team provided by Tate & Lyle of London was stationed here to oversee milling operations. Regrettably, the high standards set by them were not maintained after their departure.
Meanwhile, our sources have confirmed that many of the 117 trucks purchased by FSC at a cost of $15m are parked off season at various locations throughout the cane belt. Five of these trucks were found parked at a farm in Tavua. It seems FSC does not have facilities to keep the vehicles at its mill premises.
Likewise, tractors and other farm implements purchased under the cane development programme also remain stationed around the various farms.
“FSC has lost control over these expensive trucks and machines and there is a high risk of theft of parts and accessories from these trucks and farm equipment which were acquired to assist the growers,” says a former employee.
FSC posted a loss of $80m in 2019. Its loans portfolio stood at $412m at the close of the year.