There have been increased instances of reported internal squabbling in all of the three Cane Producer Associations (CPAs) within the cane belt that has prompted the Sugar Cane Industry Stakeholders and Government to issue this press release.
The Fair Trade Initiative which was mooted by the Industry was supported by the Bainimarama Government in July 2008 giving approval to the Fiji Sugar Corporation and the Sugar Cane Growers Council to facilitate the accreditation of Fiji Sugar to be fairtrade certified, starting with the FSC Labasa Mill and the Labasa Cane Farmers.
In June, 2010 the Labasa Cane Producers Association was launched at the Labasa Civic Centre by Prime Minister Bainimarama, making it the first in Fiji. Later on the Lautoka Cane Producers Association and the Rarawai/Penang Cane Producers Association were formed and registered.
Under Fair Trade the cane growers who are members of the three CPAs receive an additional US$60 per tonne of sugar sold. This money does not go directly to the individual growers, but is channelled to the CPA’s respective bank accounts.
Each CPA has its own structure and guidelines under which it respectively operates. It has its own Board, General Assembly and within these instruments are procedures to be followed when there are issues or differences that need to be resolved.
Mr Parmesh Chand, Acting Permanent Secretary for Sugar said that Government and the Industry do not interfere with the operations of the CPAs or even on issues relating to governance.
“The internal squabbling that have been raised with the Industry and Government are matters of great concern and must be resolved by the respective Cane Producers Association urgently.”
“Industry and Government supported the Fair Trade initiative because they see value, particularly the benefits to thousands of cane growers. The cane growers can vouch for this based on the millions of dollars they have received and the many projects that have been completed through Fair Trade monies.”
“The grower leaders who are causing agitation in these CPAs should exercise caution and take some responsibility for the sake of the many growers who are their members and for the livelihoods of their respective family members.”
“The Industry and Government would not hesitate to withdraw their support if these internal squabbling are not immediately resolved and discontinued.”
Mr Chand said that the Prime Minister and Minister for Sugar, Hon. Voreqe Bainimarama has taken a keen interest in Fair Trade since its introduction in Fiji, and has accordingly directed that all stakeholders work together harmoniously in the interest of ordinary cane farmers, their respective families and Fiji as a whole.