Mr Chaudhry was referring to the statement by FSC chief executive Graham Clarke that FSC was going to identify the site for a new mill by June/July this year. (FT 10/4/2017).
“Just three weeks ago he made an announcement that there will be no mill and Ra farmers will have to cart their cane to the Rarawai Mill. Now he is saying that a new mill site is being identified.
“The farmers want to know when a new mill will be ready. They are not interested in vague promises,” Mr Chaudhry said.
The immediate concern of Ra farmers is the losses they suffered last season in transferring their cane from Penang to the Rarawai Mill. They do not want a repeat of this.
“NFU’s position on Ra cane crush for the 2017 season is that cane should be weighed on delivery to the Penang mill and dumped there to be carted by FSC to Rarawai.
“This will avoid problems for farmers who would otherwise suffer huge losses with frequent break downs of Rarawai mill as experienced last year.
“Cane weighed at Rarawai instead of Penang will result in weight losses being borne by the farmer, more so in the case of burnt cane,” Mr Chaudhry said.
Fijileaks: Very contradictory announcement below for a new mill after the closure of Penang Mill. Did the NFP bluff work for sugarcane growers of Ra? Or did it put pressure on FFP government to announce the search for a brand new mill? FSC CEO Graham Clark is an accountant by profession and not a technical sugar miller. Also there seems to be alleged nepotism in the appointment of Navin Chandra as COO of FSC. He is a cousin of Solicitor-General Sharvada Nand Sharma
THE Fiji Sugar Corporation would be one step closer towards identifying the best site for a brand new mill by June or July this year.
CEO Graham Clark said the new mill would be better placed and equipped than current crushing facilities.
He said the Penang mill was not situated in the best place in terms of logistics and crop spread.
"We are looking to upgrade our crushing facilities and we now are getting a better idea of where we should be crushing our cane," he said
"We need to modernise out plants and we have talked about the possibility of new processing facilities as well and those would be located in the right place rather than on the outside of a cane supply area.
"Those studies are ongoing now and we'll hopefully firm those up towards the middle of the year."
When asked about the concerns raised by farmers about the closure of the Penang sugar mill, Mr Clark said people needed to set aside emotions and look at the issue realistically.
He said the mill was 137 years old, had made cumulative losses of $37 million and the total cost of reinstating factory operations at the site had been estimated at between $40m to $50m.
Mr Clark also said cane supply at the mill had declined from 210,000 tonnes in 2010 to about 175,000 this season. He added that the area under production had declined from more than 6500 hectares in the late '80s to just over 3500 ha last year. Source: Fiji Times, Monday, April 10, 2017