EU Emphasises Support to Sugar Sector in Fiji
EU Emphasises Support to Sugar Sector at Opening of Sugar Research Institute of Fiji
Lautoka, Fiji, 17 October 2013 - The European Union (EU) has emphasised the importance of research in increasing the competitiveness of Fjii’s sugar industry, particularly as the sector prepares itself for future challenges.
“The challenge for research and extension remains immense to assist the farmers and the stakeholders to turn the sugar industry around - and the EU is ready to assist,” EU Ambassador Mr Andrew Jacobs said during the opening of the new buildings of the Sugar Research Institute of Fiji (SRIF) in Drasa today.
By the end of 2013, EU direct support to research in the sugar sector will amount to Euro 3.3 million, for applied research in breeding, seed cane supply and to find ways to promote the institute’s financial sustainability. In addition, another Euro 1 million is foreseen for SRIF to continue its research work on the development of new sugarcane varieties, more resistant to diseases, droughts and floods and with higher yield in sugar and potential for co-generation.
Highlighting the importance of agriculture in the context of poverty reduction and its role in protecting against the impact of climate change, particularly for the Pacific, Mr Jacobs emphasised the need for improved land management practices through rehabilitating crop and pasture land, developing agro-forestry models and developing and disseminating sustainable agricultural technologies and land use systems.
“Part of the response lies in agricultural research for development. The EU is ready to take up the challenge of agricultural development and has placed agriculture as one of the priorities in its new agenda for change. Our contribution to agriculture and in particular agricultural research in developing countries, will significantly increase in the near future,” Ambassador Jacobs said.
“This is what we have started to do in Fiji with the first contribution to the Sugar Research Institute of Fiji. This is part of an overall funding of some Euro 1.3m as a first EU grant to the Institute that was contracted in 2006. This has been developed in consultation with sugar industry stakeholders and is in line with the National Adaptation Strategy, developed in 2006.”
The EU funds were granted for the relocation of the Institute from Lautoka to Drasa to enable research to be conducted closer to the fields. The funds were also earmarked for the establishment of two provincial offices, in Labasa and Rakiraki and to develop demonstration plots and pilot farms, establish ‘hot water treatment’ facilities for seed cane and to disseminate technical know-how on weed management and intercropping.
With EU support, the SRIF has been able to undertake a large-scale capacity building programme to upgrade the skills of young scientists and technologists to keep up with globally changing technical innovations and methods of research and in turn, to retain capable scientists within the industry.
The institute has recently distributed 15,000 weed control leaflets, 10,000 sugarcane management booklets and has developed nine model farms to demonstrate the best management practices for sugarcane farming. It has also undertaken 164 demonstration trials on farmers’ fields to demonstrate the advantages of intercropping food crops and vegetable with sugar cane.