The National, Tuesday, May 10, 2011
By PATRICK TALU
SUGAR lovers throughout the country will have their favourite Ramu Sugar brand back on the shelves by the weekend, ending a long drought of supplies.
The good news came after Ramu-Agri Industries Ltd (RAIL), a subsidiary of New Britain Palm Oil, began its sugar production last Tuesday, quashing speculations that RAIL would not meet domestic demand.
RAIL general manager Jamie Graham said in Ramu last week: “By the end of the week, PNG’s favourite sugar will be on the shelves” after the season’s harvest and production began last Tuesday.
Last Thursday, production process in the factory began with packaging trying to have sugar on the tables for consumers.
He said a second shipment of imported sugar from Thailand had arrived in Lae and was awaiting customs clearance.
The imported sugar would be on store shelves this week if the shipment was cleared quickly.
Graham did not say how much the company would produce locally, saying it was too early to project. He said, usually, Ramu Sugar produced between 30,000 tonnes and 40,000 tonnes annually.
“We are three-quarters away from the sugar season and, subject to weather conditions and pests that affect our yields, we cannot give an exact tonnage,” Graham said.
He brushed aside media speculations that oil palm had taken over the sugar fields.
“That is not true.
“RAIL is an in integrated and diversified industry with Ramu sugar, Ramu oil palm and Ramu beef.
“Over the past two years, RAIL has spent K18 million on capital investment on sugar alone while, for this year, we have invested K6 million,” he said.
“We want to produce more sugar and increase new plantings and improve our productivity.”
Graham said that kind
of investment in the sugar industry “speaks volumes of how serious RAIL is in its sugar production”.
He said the land said to have been taken over by oil palm were cattle fields and a small portion of fallow land unsuitable for sugar.