Sugar industry set to be revived; Multi-million dollar investment promises jobs

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Sakiusa Matalulu (left) with Isimeli Vuadomo and Josateki Nabete demonstrate how to extract cane juice during the launching of the Rama Se Initiative at Narewa Village, Nadi. Picture: BALJEET SINGH

A multi-million dollar investment which focuses on improving the declining sugar industry, uplift the lives of the iTaukei people and help generate government revenue is set to kick start soon.

The investment is the brainchild of Rama Se Foundation founder and philanthropist Deepak Tahal and together with the Y3 Kofera Trust, the traditional owners of Denarau, they announced their intention to produce cane syrup for the commercial market in a soft-launch facilitated in Narewa, Nadi on Friday.

With a strong catchphrase ‘Together we can make sugar cane farming sweet again’ the landowners have embarked on a journey to diversify sugar cane production and help mitigate risks associated with fluctuating global prices.

The business registered as Den 10 Development PTE Ltd has set an aim of utilising iTaukei land and resources with a calculated 90,000 jobs in the rural sector and engaging 15,000 farms which would contribute $3 billion annual revenue to the local economy.

Company chief executive Samuela Tuidraki said this was their first dive into commercial farming and admitted that while the challenges would be massive, they were ready to take on it and take a united stand for the betterment of Fiji.

“We are turning sugar cane into syrup instead of producing for the mill and yes it’s a first for us and for Fiji,” the Narewa villager said.

“There are challenges we have to go through; all we are looking at now is solutions to 75 per cent of iTaukeis in poverty.

“We have engaged the chiefs from the six districts in Nadi and each district would commit 15 hectares of land to this initiative.”

He said the support so far from local cane growers had been impressive and presented an added boost to the new investment model.

A dedicated Mr Tahal said this initiative would provide farmers the ability to gain prosperity and a better Fiji future.

“We are going to enlighten every farmer with this project.

“A 15-acre farm will deliver $200, 00 net profit, all this has been studied and all this has been researched and sugar cane syrup is healthier than honey.

“As we launch today, there is going to be the first 50 model farms.”

Mr Tahal leaves for India next week for the procurement of machines and amenities for the business which is expected to kick-start by year-end.

Commercial farmer Avinasha Swami is one of the dedicated growers who has shown interest to pilot the project later this year.

He said this sugar syrup venture would attract a new generation of farmers and would make farming viable yet again.

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