Challenges and opportunities

Fred Wesley | Saturday, June 3, 2017
IT seems a large number of people still believe the Penang mill should be repaired and remain open.
Fred Wesley. Picture: ELIKI NUKUTABU
Fred Wesley. Picture: ELIKI NUKUTABU

More than two thirds of all people interviewed in the latest Tebbutt-Times Poll believe the mill should be repaired.

Damaged in the wake of Severe Tropical Cyclone Winston in February last year, the mill was eventually shut down with plans for cane from Ra to be diverted to the Rarawai mill in Ba for crushing.

A statement by the Fiji Sugar Corporation in April this year said the decision to close the Penang mill was made taking into account commercial viability.

CEO Graham Clark said considering all issues at the mill, the cost of reinstating factory operations at the site was estimated to be between $40 million to $50m.

The latest Tebbutt poll, conducted from May 8 to May 12 asked 1044 adults over 18 years whether the mill should remain closed or repaired at an estimated cost of $50m.

The vast majority of those interviewed (69 per cent) believe it should be repaired.

The survey noted the opinion was shared across both genders, the two major ethnic groups, across all age brackets, geographic divisions, and for both urban and rural respondents.

Seventy one per cent of both iTaukei and Fijians of Indian descent agreed the mill should be repaired while 23 per cent of all iTaukei and 20 per cent of Fijians of Indian descent said the mill should be closed.

Running alongside the Tebbutt poll, today we also bring you the first of our special lift-out on the sugar industry.

We take a look at the lives of sugarcane farmers in Ra.

They discuss issues they deem important.

They talk about their loved ones, share their concerns and offer an insight into their lives as farmers.

They each have a story to tell.

Like many others around the world, they also dream of a better future for themselves and their families.

They live a life that isn't for the faint-hearted.

They have opinions on what constitutes a good move forward by FSC and the State.

Hopefully by reading their stories, we can all begin to understand and appreciate who they are.

At one stage in our history, sugar played a vital role in the economy.

Understandably, there were also mixed reactions on the sugar industry as a viable option.

We hope to bring you reports about the many challenges and opportunities in the industry.

Today we offer you a glimpse of the heartbeat of an important industry.

Perhaps we can then understand and appreciate what the future holds.

Home | Top