Bainimarama danger to sugar industry, not climate change

  • 25th November 2015
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Fiji’s sugar industry is not in any danger from rising sea waters as claimed by PM Bainimarama at the sugar conference in London. It is in danger from Bainimarama himself.

The regime’s unilateral policies that have completely marginalized growers, the lack of consultation with industry stakeholders, the neglect, mismanagement and lack of proper maintenance of milling equipment and rolling stock – these are the factors that have endangered the viability of our once thriving sugar industry.

The results of his policy to marginalize the cane growers, are obvious to all. Cane production has virtually halved under Bainimarama falling from 3.2 million tonnes in 2006 to about 1.7 million tonnes currently, as frustrated cane growers lose interest in an industry in which they no longer have any say.

He told the London ISO conference that rail lines have been corroded by sea water. The truth is that FSC’s rolling stock has been deliberately neglected over the years and allowed to deteriorate under a policy that aimed to shift the burden of transporting cane to the mills, from FSC to the growers.

In the past the ratio of rail to lorry delivery was 80:20. In recent years, this has reversed to 20:80 – more and more cane is being lorrydelivered to the mills by lorries with the burden of cost shifting to the growers.

Bainimarama told the London conference that sea water was beginning “to intrude into our fields” as a result of broken flood gates.

Yes, Mr Bainimarama, but the flood gates have not been broken by rising sea levels. They are broken because of sheer neglect and lack of maintenance of the floodgates over the years by your regime.

It seems easy to blame climate change for our own failures to take proper precautions and to keep our equipment etc in good repair.

Bainimarama blames the current drought for the industry’s failure to meet its cane production forecast of 2.1 million tonnes for 2015. But NFU had warned at the beginning of the season that the target was unrealistic.

The Prime Minister bears full responsibility for the crisis in our sugar industry. He should stop blaming everyone and everything else.