With the abolition of the EU sugar quota by 2017 looming large, the government is coming to the rescue to the planters, especially small and medium farmers.

Accordingly, the government launched the scheme for providing 80% advance payment to small and medium sugarcane planters on Thursday, 03 July 14, to ensure that the sugar sector remains economically viable and provides sustainable livelihood to vulnerable planters.

This advance would assist sugarcane planters in their procurement and use of fertilizers for their crop and concerns some 17,000 planters.

With the abolition of sugar quotas, countries such as Mauritius will face serious repercussions, as the price of sugar dips sharply.

Despite the various daunting challenges that the sugarcane sector has been facing in the recent past, the government has come forward with various schemes to ensure that this sector remains viable and resilient, said Agro-industry minister Satish Faugoo at the scheme’s launch in Port Louis.

The government understands the importance of the role played by small and medium planters in the sugar sector and that is why new schemes have been put in place to ensure that they remain socioeconomically viable, he added.

This advance will not only enable sugarcane planters to obtain adequate funds to take care of their cultivation, but also ease their liquidity problems, enabling them to benefit from cheaper rates of interest than they would have paid otherwise, stressed the minister.

Under the Economic Restructuring and Competitiveness Programme, the government has put a line of credit of Rs 1.5 billion from the Bank of Mauritius at the disposal of the Mauritius Sugar Syndicate (MSS).

This line is intended to increase the amount of the government’s usual advance payment to planters to 80% of the estimated net ex-MSS price as from delivery of their first sugar consignment.

Meanwhile, in a related development, the sugar sector will witness the launch of a bioethanol distillery this Tuesday by Mauritius sugar major Omnicane.

Located on an area of ten acres, the Rs 1 billion distillery will be inaugurated tomorrow by Prime Minister Navin Ramgoolam.

The ethanol plant was successfully commissioned in April 2014 and has now started commercial production.

The facility has been designed to house part of the existing distillery equipment of Alcodis Ltd, which has been relocated from Rose Belle to La Baraque.

Omnicane entered into a joint venture with Groupe Roland Maurel and Alcogroup SA of Belgium for its distillery, and is supported by the Cane Democratization Fund.

This development completes an important step in the diversification of the sugar major, present not only in Mauritius but in Africa and Europe as well.

However, a decision on the policy of blending ethanol with fuel is pending with the authorities.

Indeed, the decision to produce E5 (petrol containing 5% ethanol), which is one of the conditions stipulated by the EU Accompanying Measures within the context of the sugar industry’s reform framework, has yet not been taken by the government.

Pending the adoption of the Ethanol Blending Policy in Mauritius, ethanol distilled by Omnicane is exported to Europe and also to Reunion.

Image (Mauritius Sugar Syndicate): This advance would assist some 17,000 sugarcane planters in their procurement and use of fertilizers for their crop.

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