GIS – 19 July, 2019: Government is committed to supporting small planters for more diversified agricultural ventures and ensure sustainability of the sugarcane industry in Mauritius, stated the Prime Minister, Minister of Home Affairs, External Communications and National Development Unit, Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Mr Pravind Kumar Jugnauth, yesterday, at the Farmers’ Service Centre in Goodlands, during a meeting with small planters and representatives of the sugarcane industry.
The Minister of Agro-Industry and Food Security, Mr Mahen Kumar Seeruttun, the Minister of Industry, Commerce and Consumer Protection, Mr Ashit Gungah, and the Minister of Labour Industrial Relations and Employment, Mr Soodesh Callichurn, were also present at the event.
Prime Minister Jugnauth underlined that undertaking a substantial reform in the sugarcane industry is crucial for its long term resilience on both local and international front. The sector, he stressed, has to be diversified if new opportunities are to be taken adding that planters can also explore other potential areas such as tea sector, floriculture, bee-keeping, and sheltered farming. He spoke of the need to encourage the production of bagasse which is a fibrous waste-product of the sugar refining industry with a more competitive advantage on the market.
The help of international experts of the World Bank, he said, has been sought for the preparation of a report on the economic, financial and climatic aspects with regard to the sugarcane industry in Mauritius as well as to give further indications on the performance of the sector in the coming time. He underlined that they will help identify challenges that the industry is facing, mainly in terms of the decline of the price of sugar and other cane-related products on the global market. Discussions, he added, are ongoing with potential trade partners such as Africa, India and China for greater export opportunities in the sugarcane sector.
Several governmental and fiscal measures, Prime Minister stated, have been implemented for planters and farmers, namely: the 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 to acquire equipment for harvesting sugar cane of small planters; waiving of 50% of the advance on fertilisers provided to planters; the amount due by small planters under the Field Operations Regrouping Project Scheme and 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.
He also spoke of one key project announced in Budget 2019-2020, the National Wholesale Market which will be operational in December this year and will provide a space for planters to sell their products to wholesalers and customers in an efficient manner. On this score, he urged planters to benefit from training and research opportunities to help them professionalise their agricultural activities and hence, reach out for greater profitability.
Prime Minister Jugnauth also expressed his determination to continue valorising Mauritius’ agricultural landscape adding that the cane industry is yet to flourish as a key pillar of the economy. He reassured planters that sustaining the sugarcane sector remains a matter of great concern for the Government and measures are being taken to respond to the expectations and needs of community of planters.
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