RAMU Sugar’s parent company, Ramu Agri Industries Ltd (RAIL), has welcomed the expression of support for sugar production in Ramu Valley made by Morobe Governor Luther Wenge following his statements made in the media regarding RAIL’s involvement in oil palm and the increasing cost of sugar prices experienced lately, The National reports.
The company said they looked forward to the Morobe government’s assistance in protecting the production of domestic sugar in the years to come, without needing to phase out sugar production.
Responding to recent media reports, RAIL has stated that the company has invested heavily in the sugar enterprise at Ramu since the acquisition by New Britain Palm Oil Ltd (NBPOL) in late 2008.
It said that during 2009-10, nearly K18 million had been spent on improvements in the sugar factory and refitting the plant and field machinery in the sugar cane production operation.
RAIL said another K7 million had been budgeted for capital improvements to the sugar enterprise for this year and also the land under sugar cane production had remained stable but planting of new canes in the field has increased in an effort to increase production.
The management also refuted claims by Wenge that the company was not giving priority to sugar production, stating that the government had detailed plans to remove protection from domestic sugar production and expose the people of PNG to the wildly fluctuating prices in recent weeks.
RAIL said the Treasury department was informed of the high level of investment that was being undertaken to secure sugar production.
The statement said the company invested in planting thousands of hectares of oil palm on land that was previously used for rough cattle grazing at Gusap.
The acquisition of additional land near Umi, for an expansion of oil palm, had allowed for oil palm development without reducing land committed for sugar production.
NBPOL has invested heavily in sugar, beef and oil palm which had increased employment at a rate never before seen in the Ramu Valley during the past two years and invited Treasury and Finance Minister Peter O’Neill and Wenge to visit and see the company’s commitment for sustainable, agricultural development in PNG.