MAURITIUS – The International Society of Sugar Cane Technologists (ISSCT) Co-Products workshop on the theme Development of Co-Products from sugar mill streams and sugar cane biomass kicked off last week at the Holiday Inn Mauritius Airport Hotel, Plaisance.

Some 65 delegates including 28 Mauritians from the various sugar cane clusters and institutions participated in the five-day workshop which is organised by the ISSCT in collaboration with the Mauritius Sugarcane Industry Research Institute and Omnicane Ltd.

Present at the opening ceremony, the Minister of Agro Industry and Food Security, Mr Mahen Kumar Seeruttun stated that it is a great privilege for Mauritius to host such an important workshop and to welcome on its soil so many eminent personalities and sugar cane technologists upon whom we are placing hope to find new ways and means for the sustainable development and prosperity of our sugar cane industry.

According to him, despite all the efforts being made to reform the sugar industry in the wake of the major development to come, African Caribbean Pacific (ACP) Sugar Producing Countries have to face a competitiveness gap in an open market when all constraints on the sale of European Union (EU) domestic beet sugar and isoglucose will be abolished.

In a completely liberalised EU market, ACP Sugar Producers will have to compete with some large low-cost exporters and an increasing number of countries benefitting from the new Free Trade Area agreements being negotiated by the EU, the Minister said, adding that ACP suppliers will, no doubt, stand to lose both in terms of export volumes and price which will be significantly lower and more volatile.

My Ministry, in consultation with other relevant ministries, is working out a plan for the mandatory blending of ethanol with gasoline and we would come out with the modalities once the approval of Government is obtained, announced Mr Seeruttun.

The plan for the sugar sector for the period 2015 to 2024 will be released shortly and is expected to enable the sugar industry to be viable in the long term and be a dual provider of, on the one hand, quality food products and on the other hand, clean and environment friendly energy from a wide spectrum of biomass sources.

“In view of its multi-functional role, the sugar industry is always under the scrutiny of Government which spares no efforts to ensure its viability and sustainability” said the Minister.

He recalled that the sugar cane plant, of all cultivated plants, is the most efficient and effective solar energy convertor and we are all here to see how to further enhance the contribution of this wonder plant in avoiding the emission of additional carbon dioxide known to contribute to the enhanced greenhouse effect.

The sugar industry, Mr Seeruttun underlined, remains an important pillar of the economy and its reach goes well beyond agriculture.

Indeed, sugar cane is a major preserver and protector of the environment; it is a major contributor in electricity production with bagasse producing around 15 % thereof and last but not least the sugar industry underpins the rural socio-economic fabric, he added.

Some of the areas that will be covered in the workshop, include advances in ethanol fermentation from juice and molasses and cellulosic fermentation; chemical and biochemical uses of co-products; bagasse and additional fuels, including trash for cogeneration; and high fibre and energy cane.

November 30, 2015