Beware Palm Oil, Chinese Investment, Equip Police, No Sugar

N0300. BEWARE PALM OIL. The Malaysian Trade Mission visit concerning  the possible development of a palm Oil industry in Fiji should, in this writer's opinion,  be viewed with extreme concern. Oil palm estates I've seen in Johor, Malaysia, and Sumatra in Indonesia showed total replacement of native forests and lost habitat for indigenous animals, and large swathes of exposed sub-soils. Government wishes to bring more land into production in a sustainable manner is, of course, highly commendable, but if SE Asia's record is anything to go by, oil palm is not the way to go without extreme caution and a mountain of safeguards. There are safer and more sustainable uses to which Fiji's presently unproductive land can be put.

A Government release on Wednesday (No:0760/MOI) said "The core land area [the Malaysian] investors are looking at this to begin their business and achieve economies of scale is 30,000 hectares of land, probably in Lomaivuna. “I don’t see any problem with that given that we have land bank with the department of land,” said a Government spokesperson. “They are not only looking at bio-fuel, they are also looking at other downstream processes, to use the product from palm oil for other things. This an opportunity for Fiji to generate income and of course with the incentives we have, we will attract more investments in Fiji.” The semi-permanent of lease of land under land bank legislation raises further concerns: What incentives? What monitoring of the use of the land during the lease period? Lomaivuna has a rich agricultural history. Is there no better and safer use of its land than oil palm? See also this critical article in the Fiji Times.

. In what must be a record, barely one month after application.  China's Quantum Fiji Limited has been granted rights to proceed with property and property development in Fiji, that includes timber logging and processing, hotel operations, and commercial farming.  The investment project is  estimated to be worth F$60 million with F$35 million allocated for the first phase of development which involves the purchase of land, development of infrastructure, construction, planning and promotional activities for hotel operation.

 The second stage of F$25 million investment will be geared towards the development of the commercial farm.The investors are expected to collaborate with the China Agricultural University in Beijing and experts in agricultural to set up a service organization that will provide modern commercial agricultural technologies and related services to its clients. Other developments expected to be undertaken by Quantum Fiji Limited include a hotel, residential area, and biological farm area.

The new operation is expected to boost investment in the Agriculture, Tourism and Services sector and provide employment to locals.

.  This comment from a reader about the absence of information on the law:

"How may the Fiji Police apply the Law if they do not know what it is? Why are there not copies of these decrees available in each and every Community Police Post and Police Station? With these decrees should be the Section of the Crimes Decree which applies to Arrest Procedures, Court Procedures and - just as important - a copy of the Fiji Police Regulations which each officer must show he fully knows and understands. No copy of the regulations is available at our local post in the West. We checked three days ago. The Domestic Violence Decree requires considerable Police discretion. The Child Welfare Decree is Mandatory for reporting in certain sections. It is binding on many professionals and even on individuals in particular places: government departments, Health Centres, Social Welfare etc. If children are abused, it is no longer good enough to "walk on by". It is MANDATORY to report that a child is being abused. All Police Officers must now and fully comprehend their role.

The Fiji Public must be diligent in knowing the law. Crimes against Humanity like rape are not reconcilable and they are to remand those charged. We happen to know of at least three persons charged with rape who are on bail. One has not reported on bail conditions since May 2009. He is working at Denarau Island when last located. No Bench Warrant has been issued and the local police have been trying to "Pass the Buck" (to the Magistrate who bailed him - no longer serving). THIS WILL NOT DO.

N0303. SAVE OUR SOULS SUGAR. The Fiji Sugar Corporation has negotiated a sweet deal in sugar sold to UK buyer Tate and Lyle, paving the way and providing a powerful incentive for growers to invest in the crop.

FSC Executive chairman  Abdul Khan said Tate and Lyle had agreed to a "price is significantly better than what has been paid in the past. Negotiations with the UK buyer began over a month ago with the FSC adamant that if a better price was not achieved, Fiji would be looking at other markets such as Japan and Korea who are very interested in Fiji sugar. A surge in global demand for has resulted in an increase in the global sugar price increasing by as much as 50%. It is hoped grower confidence in the industry will be boosted with the increase and the announcement that 40% of mill maintenance work has been completed.

Incredibly, Fiji has had to import 10,000 tonnes of sugar from Thailand this year to meet local demand before the crushing season. The price  paid was around $2,000 per tonne.FSC exports this year averaged less than a $1,000 per tonne.

An unscheduled posting on the Reserve Bank's monetary policy and assessment of the economy will be posted at noon tomorrow,Tuesday.


No place for arbitrary and incoherent response said…
Further to 'This will not do':

It also will not do that people are left without an untreated water supply for three and a half days in an arbitrary manner (two advertisements posted in the newspapers ARE NOT sufficient because they left out the names of many settlements and affected areas). The temperature was at 86F for most of those days. Yesterday morning, I rolled down the window of my vehicle to address some young children in the middle of the road and to ask why they were out of school. They politely told me that they were searching for water. It was already very hot and by now they had had NO WATER for two and a half days. No tankers provided as is mandatory under various conventions to which Fiji is signatory. No detailed and SMART (T is for timebound) assessment by the Water Authority (which was called at least two dozen times in 48 hours) as to when water might be reliably back. This demonstrates the often incoherent response of government especially in places away from the metropolis. Who watches this? Well, we do. The civilian population and we are watching daily. Arbitrary and incoherent responses to basic needs will not go unremarked, unreported and without complaint. Rest assured on that score!
Emosi said…
in the fiji times the FSC spokesperson says they got a sell price thats very close to world market prices.

so they're selling at $1000 per ton and buying at $2000 per ton.

i checked a very well known B2B website for sugar and chose brazil as it is a well known net exporter of sugar. the initial price given was US$500-600 ie FJ$1000-1200. prices were cheaper from india but i'm kinda leery of indian goods.

FOB pricing.

anyway, if i was able to do this in 5 minutes, how is it that the fiji govt cant find cheaper sources?.

further, if the sell price is very close to world market prices, what makes them think that paying TWICE as much is a good deal?. someone should have said "whoa, hold on!" as soon as they saw the price..

unless theres something fishy going on..

$150 million spent on the FSC "restructure" and no investigations or anything, but the court case related to that silly clock for $75k is daily news?.
Cicero said…
@ Proper Planning.....?

Under past regimes (these were governments not freely and fairly elected - mostly bought) there were no less than Nine Government Planning Committees. The SWG9 - Government Planning Committee for Justice, Law & Order was the LAST of nine. So it was always very obvious where Justice, Law & Order were placed. Now, there appear to be no Planning Committees of any kind at all. The test is this: Water and its availability without constraints/Passports/Sugar on the local market. In order of priority. Sugar on the local market is last because we ought to be eschewing the use of sugar and resorting to honey (locally produced) or going without. Fiji has one of the highest diabetes rates in the Pacific Region per capita.

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