Sugar Cane Growers Fund (SCGF) deployed special loan package from 21st December 2020 to 31st March 2022 after TC Yasa impacted the Vanua Levu Growers.
It consisted of $5000 loan of which: (A) tired basis $1000 unsecured loans for immediate needs under the Priority Loan Scheme and (B) rest of $4000 as Specialized Secured Loans.
About 600 cane growers from Labasa and Seaqaqa areas took loans in excess of $0.550m. We at SCGF made a submission in the revised March 2021-2022 Budget to the Government for the full payment of the balance outstanding said SCGF Chief Executive Officer Mr Raj Sharma. We are pleased that Government and in particular, through recommendation of the line Ministry, Ministry of Sugar, Ministry of Economy approved payment which includes for – 591 growers’ loan outstanding at the time of the budget approval amounting to $536,445.43 that will be fully paid off. This was after the agreement was signed on 16th June 2022.
In addition, 9 of growers who paid cash amounting to $8178.13 will be refunded their cash payment by next week – funds will be credited to their accounts.
This morning, we please that Director Operations is here to present the letters to our 10 of the 600 growers. In addition to this all the growers will receive the text confirmation of the payment by early next week.
Director Operations for Ministry of Sugar Mr Sanjay Kumar while presenting the letters to the growers said Government continued to assist in many forms to the sugar industry that includes guarantee price of $85, fertilizer subsidy, cane planting grants, weedicide subsidy.
He further mentioned that the Government earlier on had provided total package of $4m towards TC Yasa rehabilitation package after approved by the Cabinet
- $1,153,910 sourced from within the Ministry of Sugar Industry’s 2020/2021 approved budget. Of the total $1,153,910, $1m was sourced from the Fertilizer Subsidy Program and $153,910 funded from the New Farmers Assistance Program;
- $860,126 worth of weedicide subsidy was sourced from the Weedicide Subsidy Program implemented by the South Pacific Fertilizers Ltd (SPFL);
- $1,000,000 sourced from the Cane Development and Revolving Fund (CDRF) implemented by Sugar Cane Growers Fund (SCGF) to fund part of fertilizer cost, slashing and drainage works; and
- Fiji Sugar Corporation (FSC) provided $1,000,000 worth of assistance for replanting.
Government has injected more than $452 million since 2016 into sugar industry through various grants and subsidies with the objective to reduce production costs to boost our cane productions.
Due to climate change, now the floods are more intense, droughts are longer, and storms have been stronger and more frequent than ever. Since 2016, we have experience total of seven (7) cyclones namely TC Winston, TC Josie and Keni, TC Harold, TC Ana, TC Yasa and last one being TC Cody.
These cyclones have affected 56,313 hectares of sugarcane farms, causing crop loss of more than 3.3 million tons of cane that has an estimated value of more than $106 million.
TC Yasa (category 5 cyclone), alone had caused massive damage to the cane production where the production in the Northern Division has declined from approximately 672,000 tons 2020 to 362,000 in 2021 – a decline of around 310,000 tons or by 46% reduction.
Not only sugarcane crop, but also cane access roads and milling infrastructure were severely damaged. Intense rainfall caused waterlogging, reduced soil fertility and ultimately reduced cane productivity. These challenges are beyond our control.
To assist the farmers who have been affected by TC Yasa, Ministry of Sugar Industry has provided total of $6.1 million grant to undertake rehabilitation works.
In addition to the assistance provided by government, Sugar Cane Growers Fund developed an easy and affordable finance facility specifically for Rehabilitation works associated with TC Yasa under two broad categories namely (i) Priority loan and (ii) specialized loan.
Priority loans were provided to those growers who required minimum amount while specialized loan were offered to those grower who had major damage to the dwelling. This finance facilities provided instant relief to growers who were affected by TC Yasa.
Sugar Cane Growers Funds facilitated loans to around 600 growers for TC Yasa rehabilitation works. A very small fraction of the growers who capitalized on these facilities have fully met their loan obligations. While the greater fraction of growers are still finding difficulty in meeting the repayment to the Sugar Cane Growers Fund.
Considering that these farmers will receive marginal to zero cane payment after deductions, the government decided to meet the debt obligations and associated interest of these farmers by allocating total of $550,000 in the 2021-2022 Revised budget.
Today’s presentation of cheque is reconfirmation of government support for sugar industry.