Government wants a strong and profitable sugarcane industry. Every stakeholder must work together for the sustainable development and continuous improvement of the sugarcane sector so that the economy can reap benefits from it. Government is also aware of the multifunctional role of this industry and of its importance in the socio-economic development of Mauritius.
The Minister of Agro-Industry and Food Security, Mr Mahen Seeruttun, made this statement at the Annual General Assembly of the Mauritius Sugar Syndicate, today at Labourdonnais Waterfront Hotel in Port Louis.
In his address, the Minister highlighted that one of Government's main goal is that the sugarcane industry produces at least 400 000 tons of sugar annually and in order to achieve this goal, it is imperative to maintain some 55 000 hectares of land under sugarcane cultivation. He added that in this respect, several measures have been taken to support producers to increase their production and motivate those who have abandoned their fields for a return to sugarcane cultivation. Government has earmarked some Rs 50 million in Budget 2017/2018 to restore 500 hectares under sugarcane cultivation, he pointed out.
Mr Seeruttun recalled that the sugarcane industry is not solely concerned with the production of sugar but also contributes to the country's economy, namely in the energy and environmental sectors. The production of 350 GWh of electricity from bagasse allows the country to avoid the yearly import of 200 000 tons of coal or 80 000 tons of heavy oil with high sulphur content given that these products emit a substantial amount of sulphur dioxide, which is harmful to public health and the environment.
With regard to the country's strategy of exporting sugar exclusively to the European market and the abolition of the sugar quota on that same market, the Minister cautioned that Mauritius must be prepared to face greater competition from other large sugar producers. One of our options is to negotiate a new agreement with Great Britain, in the wake of the Brexit, to export our sugar to that country, he added.