The certification process for Cane Producers Association in Fiji
Since the end of the 19th century the sugar industry has been highly economically significant for Fiji. However, recently the industry has entered decline, encountering a number of problems. The economic challenges facing the Fiji sugar industry that have been highlighted by academics and commentators; providing the backdrop of the context in which Fairtrade certification has taken place, vis-à-vis;
• Decreasing land availability and land degradation
Land leases not being renewed; therefore, reducing land availability to those who wish to be sugarcane farmers.
• Lack of application to the task of cane growing by the farmer, including absentee farmers and the insecurity of land tenure. A flow on effect of this is that there is a reluctance to spend money on replanting. In 2009, for instance plant cane harvested amounted to roughly 5% of the total area harvested whereas the norm would be between 15 and 20%.’
• Inadequate land preparation with inadequate equipment; most farms have not been deep ripped to combat soil compaction for many years.’
• ‘Poor crop husbandry practices including weed overgrowth, low fertilizer application, and a failure to “supply” (a process to fill in the gaps where cane hasn’t germinated).
• ‘Deteriorating standards of cane harvesting which leaves cane in the field’ and reduces profitability
• ‘Increased incidence of disease’, in particular, Ratoon Stunting disease.
• ‘Farm labour shortage; labour was traditionally drawn from within the family now has to be sourced from outside the family unit at a cost.’
• Reduction in ‘human capital’ in the industry and labour shortage.
• Lack of capital investment on farms due to high costs and lack of security of tenure
• External economic environment; The EU sugar price received by Fiji dropped by 36% on 1 October 2009. Since 1975, Fiji has had preferential access to the countries of the European Union at prices up to three to four times the world sugar price. The preferential pricing is, however, being phased out under pressure from the World Trade Organisation (WTO). The economic viability of the industry will depend on its ability to increase efficiency, add value and compete effectively for market share
The Fair-Trade Coordination Unit (FCU) was set in 2010 to identify opportunities for ethical accreditation of Fijian sugar so as to secure specialist markets for Fairtrade certified sugar from developing countries. The FCU with the support of the European Union has facilitated the establishment of 3 Cane Producer Associations (CPA’s) who were later assisted with securing Fairtrade certification for Fiji’s key export commodity, sugar. The program has successfully supported the FT certification for the 3 CPA’. Efforts are now underway to combine resources of Cane Producers Associations and facilitate development of a close knit working environment in liaison with the Stakeholder Action Group (SAG) to support the industry reform program.
By early 2014, the FCU had effectively supported the negotiations for Fairtrade certified sugar quota for 70,000 tons with a total premium entitlement of US$4.2m annually, destined for Tate & Lyle Sugars, UK, making Fiji the largest single Fairtrade premium earner from Fairtrade sugar in the world.
The 3 Cane Producers Associations have received revenues from Fairtrade Premiums equivalent to approximately F$ 22 million (between 2010-2014 crop sugars sold on the Fairtrade markets).
Along with the two CPA’s all 4 sugar mills were also supported with securing FLO-Certification ‘license to trade in Fairtrade products’. This has been a significant milestone in the Sugar Industry Reform Program initiated by the sugar industry stakeholders & Tate and Lyle Sugars and supported by the European Union through the AAP2011 ‘Improvement to Key Services in Agriculture project’.
Read more about the Economic Assessment of Fiji’s sugar in Vanua Levu, Fiji here
European Union Programme Coordination Unit Treasure Island on the Water Marine Drive P O Box 5993 Lautoka City Fiji Islands.