MONTEGO BAY, Feb. 16 (JIS): Agriculture and Fisheries Minister, Hon. Derrick Kellier, says the Government is committed to ensuring the survival of the sugar industry.
Speaking recently in Falmouth, Trelawny, Minister Kellier noted that sector is facing challenges, which include fall in prices, and factory closure, which have resulted in the displacement of workers.
He said the Government will continue to work with industry stakeholders to address the difficulties and ensure that stability is returned to the sector in the shortest possible time.
“It is a difficult time for sugar and we must face it, but all is not lost. We have to strategise now that our back is against the wall,” he noted.
The Minister said the plans going forward include “transforming the industry from a sugar industry to a sugarcane industry” with a focus on multiple products such as raw sugar, molasses, refined sugar, and ethanol.
“We need to look at the by-products that we can garner from the sugar cane; the bagasse that we will use to generate energy as a renewable resource, the production of ethanol…so that we can earn from other sources,” he pointed.
Minister Kellier said the packaging of sugar for the retail trade represents a step in the right direction and the sector must now focus on marketing to the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).
“Our call as a Government is that the entire sugar industry in Jamaica must now turn its marketing focus to CARICOM, which consumes some 300,000 tonnes of refined sugar annually, but which has no refining capacity,” Minister Kellier said.
He noted that the Government will continue to provide critical infrastructure such as roads.
“Right now we are committed to rehabilitating the road from Drumally to Maroon Town right through Elderslie to Maggotty to facilitate the transport of sugar cane to the Appleton Factory,” he said.
He noted further that a team from the Ministry has been working with Everglades Farms “to explore and finalise other income streams for the operation of Long Pond/Hampden with a view of setting the stage for reopening the factory as soon as possible.”