A lease agreement was signed, today, during an official ceremony at the Caudan Arts Center in Port Louis, between the Mauritius Cane Industry Authority (MCIA) and Landscope (Mauritius) Limited for the construction of a sugar storage warehouse facility of a capacity of 150,000 tons at Riche Terre.
The MCIA also signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Development Bank of Mauritius (DBM) for an upfront crop financing loan to small sugar cane planters for cane replantation. The Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development, Dr Renganaden Padayachy; the Attorney General, Minister of Agro-Industry and Food Security, Mr Maneesh Gobin; and other eminent personalities were present on that occasion.
In his address, Minister Gobin expressed satisfaction with regards to the signature of the two agreements as they reflected the symbiosis among several institutions which, he said, previously operated in silos. He highlighted that interaction among the MCIA and the two other institutions was important as it would help to reduce costs and provide access to financing. He further pointed out that Government was confident that, with the necessary framework, the Mauritian sugarcane sector had a bright future ahead. He observed that the target of producing 250,000 tons of sugar last year was attained and indicated that the long-term target stood at 400,000 tons per year.
Minister Gobin also enumerated some facilities and schemes at the disposal of planters and appealed to the Ministry of Finance, Economic Planning and Development for additional funds so as to be able to further develop the agro-industry sector in Mauritius.
For his part, Minister Padayachy recalled that the sugarcane industry, as well as the agriculture sector in general, greatly contributed to the socio-economic development of the country. He stated that agreements such as the ones signed helped develop a synergy among institutions and played a key role in ensuring the economic development of Mauritius. Dr Padayachy underlined that despite the COVID-19 pandemic, Government was determined to provide all necessary facilities for further developing the agricultural sector and entrepreneurship locally. He added that each year, Government would announce strong measures for these sectors, which would help accelerate inclusive development.
Budget 2021-22 provides for the construction of a modern sugar storage warehouse of a capacity of 150,000 tons of bagged sugar, to be implemented by the MCIA at Jin Fei, Riche Terre Industrial Park. An extent of approximately 16 arpents of state land vested to Landscope (Mauritius) Ltd, for mixed use and port/logistic related projects, will be used by the MCIA to implement this project.
A total cumulative sum of Rs 250 million has been earmarked in the budget in financial year 2021/22 and 2022/23 for this infrastructural capital project. The purpose is to relocate and increase the storage capacity for bagged sugars under one roof within the port region with a view to facilitate access to and from the new warehouse and reduce storage cost instead of having recourse to different private operators’ warehousing facilities. The savings made will contribute in increasing the producers’ revenue.
Budget 2020-21 provides also for an amount of Rs 30 million under the Cane Replanting Scheme to be allocated as grant to small/medium planters with a view to encourage them to replant their fields and to remain within the cane cultivation activity. It is to be noted that this procedure for the release of funds has been subject of representations from individual sugar cane planters, cooperative societies as well from the Mauritius Cooperative Agricultural Federation Ltd.
The DBM will provide a loan of up to Rs 50,000 per arpent, repayable at an interest rate of 2% per annum, subject to the borrower complying and/or satisfying all the terms and conditions of the Bank. The loan shall be reimbursed as follows: Rs 35,000 per arpent by the MCIA as grant element on behalf of the eligible planters; and the balance of Rs 15,000 per arpent together with interest thereon over two years shall be repaid by the planter in two consecutive annual installments.
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