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PNP urges Gov't to set out clear plan for Clarendon sugar farmers

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

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KINGSTON, Jamaica — Member of Parliament for South West Clarendon, Noel Arscott and People's National Party (PNP) caretaker for South East Clarendon, Patricia Duncan Sutherland, are calling on the Government to be more definitive with plans for cane farmers and factory workers in Clarendon.

The PNP representatives in a release this morning stressed that the situation has reached a critical juncture and they are demanding that before the next crop is finished in June 2019, a series of consultations are held with the farmers in the affected areas to determine the way forward.

They said an urgent decision must also be taken as to whether the Monymusk Sugar factory in Lionel Town, Clarendon will be reopened for the current crop.

Arscott and Duncan Sutherland said their calls follow a meeting with the cane farmers to discuss the proposal, put forward by the current Government, to transport cane from Clarendon to factories outside the parish for processing.

They said the situation surrounding the future of sugar and cane lands were the main items of discussion along with the attendant disruption of economic livelihoods of families in the parish. The PNP representatives said that based on information available to them, it is very unlikely that the government's proposal will succeed and provide adequate compensation to those affected. “Firstly, both the Worthy Park and Appleton Estate factories, together, do not have the capacity to process the amount of cane expected to be reaped and transferred from the current crop in Clarendon.

“Secondly, in addition to the cost of double-loading, this situation will have a significantly negative impact on the price paid to the farmers which would impact their earnings,” the two contended.

They said the farmers shared these concerns with them along with their counterproposal which they have raised with the Government and are recommending that the $300 million already in the budget to supplement the transportation of the crop, be reallocated to running the Clarendon plant instead.

The farmers are said to have also proposed that the Monymusk factory be reopened at the end of February and remain open for a defined period to mitigate losses incurred in the last period due to running the factory with less than adequate supplies of cane due to late deliveries from farmers.

The PNP representatives further contended that the farmers are yet to receive a response from the Government and they are becoming increasingly agitated by the lack of dialogue.

Arscott and Duncan Sutherland implored the Government to consider, in their decision making, the livelihood of the over 250 factory workers and their families, who would need to be able to plan their lives for the upcoming year.

“The Government must also take into consideration the indebtedness of some farmers who received loans from the government for this crop. How will they repay these loans if they do not earn adequately from the crop?” the representatives asked.

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