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Mauritius 2010 sugar output seen falling

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Monday, 21 June 2010

Mauritius 2010 sugar output seen falling

Mauritius sugar output is seen falling to 450,000 tonnes this year from 467,234 tonnes in 2009 largely due to a reduced area under cultivation and poor weather, the Chamber of Agriculture said on Friday. Sugar, a centuries-old pillar of the Indian Ocean island's now almost $10 billion economy, accounts for roughly 3% of gross domestic product, the chamber says, and is a major employer. "Small planters are abandoning sugar cane cultivation," Jocelyn Kwok, secretary general of the chamber, told Reuters in an interview. "We have been losing about 2,200 hectares of sugar cane fields (annually). In 2009, we lost 1,900 hectares, and it is expected that it will be the same this year," he said. Mauritian sugar producers have been hit hard after the European Union cut its guaranteed price for African, Caribbean and Pacific sugar by 36%. The final tranche took effect last October. Large-scale producers have sought to diversify their revenue by producing electricity and ethanol and have shed human labour for machines. But small-scale producers have found it harder to cope. Mauritius, which has a population of 1.3 million, is the leading sugar exporter from the ACP bloc to the EU. Kwok said erratic weather conditions, with insufficient spells of steady rainfall, meant development of the cane was behind schedule.

Source: Reuters