UK traders Tate and Lyle Sugars is beginning a phase-out program of all support staff from the FSC, which should be completed by the end of the year.
According to Ministry of Sugar permanent secretary Lieutenant Colonel Manasa Vaniqi, the withdrawal of Tate and Lyle technicians from mills in the country was to be expected after the completion of training programs for local engineers.
He said having technicians from the UK trader assist in the revitalising of mills, which resulted in significant improvements to milling efficiency, was part of the Sugar Cane Industry Action Plan.
“Having Tate and Lyle technicians with us was never a permanent situation,” Lt-Col Vaniqi said.
“They were brought in to improve our mills and upskill our local staff in various areas of expertise.”
Lt-Col Vaniqi added that ensuring local engineers and technicians were kept abreast with improvements to sugar production technology and developed new skills to address any issues was part of the comprehensive plan.
“We have established six committees to look into all the details and all aspects of the sugar industry from land issues to cane production, milling efficiency, exploring broader revenue base, accounting and finance and policy framework.”
Growers in the Western Division, however, raised concerns about the intended phase-out.
“Mills have improved and there were likely chances of this improving more because of the technical expertise offered by Tate and Lyle, and this had really boosted growers’ confidence in the industry,” said Rarawai-Penang Cane Producers Association president Gyan Singh.
“We acknowledge that the government has done a lot to restore confidence in the industry but the danger is this confidence could be lost if Tate and Lyle totally withdraws from FSC.”
– FIJI TIMES