Government's objective is to cater for the well-being of everyone involved in the sugarcane industry and to ensure that the sector remains viable and profitable. A reform is essential to boost the sector wherein diversification is key as we now have to think in terms of Cane industry.

This was the gist of the message of the Prime Minister, Minister of Home Affairs, External Communications and National Development Unit, Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Mr Pravind Kumar Jugnauth, to sugarcane planters and representatives of sugarcane industries, yesterday, during a meeting held at the Farmers' Service Centre in St Pierre.

The Minister of Technology, Communication and Innovation, Mr Yogida Sawmynaden, the Minister of Agro-Industry and Food Security, Mr Mahen Kumar Seeruttun, and the Minister of Education and Human Resources, Tertiary Education and Scientific Research, Mrs Leela Devi Dookun-Luchoomun, were present on the occasion.

The Prime Minister reiterated his support to sugarcane farmers and expressed his determination to build the long-term resilience of the sugarcane industry. He highlighted that Government is sensitive to the plight of sugarcane planters adding that in the wake of the various challenges that the Sugarcane industry is facing, both at local and international levels, it has made it a priority to look into the matter. Several meetings with representatives of the sector were held during pre-budget 2019-2020 consultations, so that the necessary facilities and favourable measures are provided, so that sugarcane farmers can maintain their activities.

He dwelt on measures taken by the Government since 2015 to help this category of planters, and enumerated key 2019-2020 Budgetary measures, namely: allocation of Rs 25,000 per ton of sugar for the first 60 tons of sugar accrued to sugarcane farmers; provision of Rs 15 million for the Mauritius Cane Industry Authority (MCIA) to acquire equipment for harvesting sugar cane of small planters; waiving of 50% of the advance on fertilisers provided to planters through the MCIA, and the amount due by small planters under the Field Operations Regrouping Project (FORIP) Scheme as well as the insurance premium paid to the Sugar Insurance Fund Board by planters producing up to 60 tons of sugar ; and provision of funds under the Cane Replantation Programme to encourage planters to bring their lands back under cultivation, amongst others.

Moreover, Prime Minister Jugnauth pointed out that it is crucial to undertake a reform of the sugarcane industry and bring forth a new dynamism, so that the sector becomes more efficient and profitable for everyone working in the industry. According to him, the sugar sector should be diversified so that the economy can tap into new opportunities of the cane sector. On that score, he spoke of other avenues of diversification to further give a spur to the agriculture sector, including: tea sector, bee-keeping, floriculture and sheltered farming.

He announced that one key project to boost business activities in the agricultural sector, namely the National Wholesale Market, will be operational by December 2019. The National Wholesale Market, he said, will have the necessary amenities, to respond to the needs of planters by providing a space for planters to sell their products to wholesalers and customers in an effective and efficient way as well as providing a cold room for storage of vegetables and fruits will improve the handling of these crops as regards post-harvest and onward sales.

In his concluding remarks, he urged sugarcane farmers to avail themselves of the facilities being offered to them to continue operate in an efficient way and to cooperate with the Government, to help pave the way for a brighter future for the country.

Source: Republic of Mauritius