October 09, 2012

New system a sweetener for Fiji cane growers

Posted 8 October 2012, 18:55 AEST

Fiji's sugarcane growers will be paid on the quality of what they produce - not just its weight - when a new testing system is introduced next year.

The Fiji Sugar Corporation has announced that next season it will use a "Near Infra Red", or NIR system, to test cane quality when it arrives at the country's sugar mills.

The FSC says paying growers based on the weight of their produce has led to many growers using cane varieties which weigh heavily, but don't deliver a high sugar yield.

Chief Policy Officer of Australia's industry representative Canegrowers, Bernard Milford, told Radio Australia's Pacific Beat the new system will allow growers to make more informed choices about their varieties of sugar.

"What the new system will allow them to do is to be able to say 'ah, this one yields well but the sugar content is no good', or vice-versa."

Mr Milford says the NIR system uses light to look at the spectrum of a sample and compares it mathematically with known samples.

The system can measure the sugar content and ash content in the cane.

He says although there may be some short-term pain for some growers, the system will be a win-win for the whole industry.

"When you have a system that moves from 'one price fits all' or 'one size fits all' to a system that rewards the good and penalises the bad it really does benefit everybody," Mr Milford said.

"If I'm doing better than the average it means I get paid for that. If I'm doing worse than the average and I improve, it means I get the value of my improvement."

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