What is the Training Support to the Fiji Sugarcane Industry project about?
The project focuses on training sugarcane industry workers across the sugar belt regions of Fiji to improve their productivity and efficiency by upgrading their technical and management skills. This, in turn, will enable workers to develop their capability to help the industry to meet current and future challenges by equipping them with the required knowledge and skills.
The EU Ambassador to Fiji and the Pacific, H.E. Andrew Jacobs, said, “The project, financed under the EU's Accompanying Measures for Sugar Protocol (AMSP) Programme, aims to improve the livelihood of the sugarcane dependent population by promoting income generation through sugarcane farming or supplementary livelihoods.”
''With the ending of the European Union sugar preferential pricing system in October this year, Fiji will enter a more competitive global market. This project is important to improve the efficiency and productivity of the sugar industry by enhancing human resource capacity. This complements the efforts of the Fiji Government and other stakeholders to strengthen the competitiveness of the sugarcane sector,” adds Ambassador Jacobs.
Acting Australian High Commissioner to Fiji, Ms Amy Crago said, “We are delighted to be directly helping Fijians in the sugar belt areas, in this partnership with the EU.”
When did the project start?
In 2014, the EU signed an agreement of delegated cooperation with the Australian Government for the implementation of the Training Support to the Fiji Sugarcane Industry project, complementing the AMSP 2013 programme. The EU contributed €4m (or nearly FJ$10 million) towards the implementation of the project. The project set up and training started in 2015, based out of Nadi.
How is the Australia-Pacific Technical College (APTC) involved?
The Australian Government has engaged the Australia-Pacific Technical College (APTC) to deliver the vocational education and training required under the Training Support to the Fijian Sugarcane Industry project.
Through the project, APTC engages with sugar industry stakeholders to ensure that the training delivered is of high quality and addresses skills gaps across the sugar supply chain in Fiji. To date, training has been delivered in the areas of Leadership and Management, Project Management, Engineering and Construction Trades, Business, Safety and customised training to meet the needs of local farmers.
“By working closely with stakeholders, employers and the sugar industry workers themselves, APTC has been able to align training to the real skills required. APTC delivers relevant training programs that make a difference to the short and long term employability of individuals and productivity improvement in the workplace,” says APTC CEO Ms Denise O’Brien.
Who benefits from the project?
The project helps expand the skills of the sugarcane industry workforce which includes; the Fiji Sugar Corporation (FSC) staff in executive, middle-level and supervisory level positions, existing mill workers, farm advisory officers, leader famers, agricultural extension staff, and other support agencies from the industry, such as, the Sugar Research Institute of Fiji (SRIF), Sugarcane Growers Council (SCGC), Sugar Industry Tribunal (SIT), Sugar Cane Growers Fund (SCGF) and the Cane Producers Association (CPA).
The FSC has been one of the main beneficiaries of the project. FSC General Manager Human Resources, Mr Timoci Laqai says that the impact of the project on FSC employees is very visible and the training delivered by APTC has been received well.
“The improvement in knowledge and skills through the training has resulted in improved performance and productivity. The project motivates workers by recognising them as key members of the industry and helps them to further enhance their skills to maximise their potential and output,” he adds.
The training has benefitted FSC employees like Ms Agnes Rounds. She graduated with Certificate IV in Frontline Management and Certificate IV in Project Management Practice. The training has empowered her to deliver innovative projects as the Industrial Nurse of the FSC Ba Mill.
“After completing the training, I created an information centre at no cost to the organisation using resources that were available. This centre helps in the exchange of information by educating employees about what is happening in our organisation.”
Another example is of Mr Josefa Cagimaicama who participated in the Leader Farmer workshops that help equip leader farmers with basic finance management and business planning skills. Mr Cagimaicama, who has been a sugarcane farmer since 2005, feels that the training has enabled him to conduct his farming business better.
“Learning about things like proper record keeping, conducting training and making our farms profitable are very useful for farmers like me,” he explains.
What has the project achieved so far?