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Chairman’s Press Statement at Farmers’ Open Day Ba

  1. The Chief Guest – Minister for Multi-Ethnic Affairs & Sugar Industry- Hon. Charan Jeath Singh
  1. I acknowledge the past, current, and future landowners of this place and representing Tui Ba, – Mata Ni Tikina Bulu – Mr Noa Kautoga
  2. Director Operation- Mr Naidu
  3. Fellow Board Member- Sugar Cane Growers Fund- Mr Chaudhary
  4. Various Government Ministry Officials
  5. All Industry Institutional Heads, Stakeholders,
  6. The Exhibitors
  7. CEO, Management, and Staff of SCGF
  8. Ladies and Gentlemen

    Good Morning, Bula Vinaka and Namaste
    I thank the Honourable Minister for his presence this morning to be the chief guest for the Farmers’ Open Day.
    I must also thank all the stakeholders and the exhibitors for their participation.
    This Farmers’ Open Day brings all the key stakeholders together for an informative session. This is one of the biggest events that SCGF has taken the lead in demonstrating our commitment to the sugar industry, as articulated by the CEO.
    I am told that we have 27 exhibitors here in Ba and about 15 in Seaqaqa. That is a great showcase for the industry for a day. The whole objective of this Open Day is to create vibes for the industry, industry players, and other stakeholders.
    We, at SCGF are committed to the reform of the industry.
    This event also sees the handing over of New Farmer/ Lease Premium Grant Agreements to 24 of the Western recipients. Congratulations to all of you! At this juncture also thank the Ministry for this budgetary allocation.
    Let me also express our sincere appreciation to the Minister for Finance & Strategic Planning, for the Budget Announcement made yesterday This is a very bold and prudent budget despite current challenges in the global and local economic space. I will not steal the thunder from the Hon Minister on the Budget.

    However, despite the challenges, we at SCGF can see opportunities from the budget within the sugar industry, agriculture, financial services (MSMEs), rural housing, and the medical sector. Management will look at how best we can support the farming community with various initiatives.
    On SCGF; since January this year, we have made some of policy relaxations, and reviewed or introduced new products which are as follows-
  9. Introduced Government Grant New Farmer Loan Product at 2.99% for 12 months and thereafter at 6%.
  10. Business Link Pacific Loan Product revised for sugar cane farming investment loan which has a 16% Grant.
  11. Reduction in Equity – The Farm Purchase equity was reduced from 33% to 20% and the Farm Machines from 10% to 5%.
  12. Medical Expenses Loan cap increased from $10,000 to $20,000.

    Yesterday afternoon, after the Budget Delivery, the SCGF Board met, after careful deliberation and considering the social and economic landscape, and international framework such as Sustainable Development Goals, I am pleased to announce the introduction of following policies (Hon Minister, Ladies, and Gentlemen)-
    a. Off-Season Burnt Cane Rehabilitation Package- Farmers, who have lost 50% of their crop during off crushing, will get a proportionate repayment amount holiday for the season for the crop lost, based on the previous season’s production. The interest rate will also reduce from the current 6% to 3.1 % for the 12 months.
    b. Green Cane Harvesting Incentive- The Industry has been challenged with the burnt cane (ranging from 40-50%) and considering its impact on the environment, cane quality, climate, and soil, the Board has approved that all those growers are indebted to SCGF, who harvest more than 75% of the green cane for the season, will get 2 percent interest reduction (from 6 % to 4 %) after completing of the season, for 12 months – January to December, subject to annual review, starting at the end of this season.
    Going Forward
    c. The Management will look at a special loan package for those farmers affected by Termite as we note the Government announced $ 2 million grants in yesterday’s Budget Allocation. This we expect to be announced in next Month- July.
    d. Management is also working on other programs such as Insurance Packages and Farmer Loyalty/Discount programs and a decision is expected before the end of the year.
    e. The Board also noted a submission from the Management to explore medical services perhaps a Dialysis Centres- in Labasa, Rakiraki, and Ba.
    In the coming months, SCGF will review its strategic plan aligning with the industry and the new National Development Plans.

    With these words, Hon Minister once again SCGF is committed to supporting the industry and the farmers.
    Thank you, Hon Minister, all the stakeholders, various ministries, all the exhibitors, my fellow Board members, Mr. Rajesh Patel, and the Ground Committee, and special thanks to our Organising Committee Chairman, Mr Dayal, and the SCGF family.
    Vinaka Vakalevu.