Mauritius on Thursday completed the centralization of its sugar industry under which four big factories will produce the island’s entire 400,000 tons of sugar annually to improve competitiveness in the long term.
The government on Thursday closed the last of the other sugar producing units at Beau Champ in the south of the country.
The four factories are very productive and efficient and produce different types of specially refined sugars and use bagasse (megass) and molasses, two by-products of the sugar cane, to produce electricity and ethanol.
During a visit to Beau Champ, Agro-industry Minister, Satish Faugoo, said centralization of the sugar industry was not new to the island.
“It started long ago, probably not under a strategy because it was not well organized and also because of economic reasons,” he added.
When the Mauritian sugar industry was created 271 years ago in 1743 by French Governor Mahe de Labourdonnais, the island had 259 sugar milling factories.
In 1891, the number of factories was reduced to 124, then 21 in 1973 and 17 in 2005. Now it has only 4.
“The present reform of the sugar industry dated 2006/2015 is meant to improve the competitiveness of the industry in the long term, following the decline of 36 per cent of the price of sugar on the European market since 2009 and the end of the Sugar Protocol the following year,” the Minister said.
Mr Faugoo said the reforms would keep the sugar industry on the list of the main pillars of the economy for many more years to come.
He said Mauritius was able to transform the challenges into opportunities as opposed to several other sugar industries around the world.
“Some countries have even stopped cultivating the sugarcane. Now, Fiji wants to copy our model that was reformed with the help of the European Union,” Faugoo said.
Under the sugar reforms plan, about 17,000 workers left the industry under a Voluntary Retirement Scheme (VRS) with a financial compensation and a portion of land on which they can build a house.