Farmers get $200 million more to transport sugar cane

Farmers get $200 million more to transport sugar cane

Saturday, November 16, 2019

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THE Government is providing an additional $200 million for the transportation of sugar cane from Monymusk in Clarendon to Worthy Park Estate in St Catherine and Appleton Estate in St Elizabeth for the 2019/2020 crop season.

The assurance came from Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries Audley Shaw in a speech delivered on his behalf by senior director in the ministry's Strategic Planning Division, Delroy Coley, at the 70th annual general meeting of the All-Island Cane Farmers' Association held at Denbigh Showground in May Pen on Wednesday.

The support is part of short-term interventions to assist the small farmers from St Catherine and Clarendon who operate in the Monymusk area. A similar sum was provided for the 2018/19 crop.

“In addition, the Government has identified other areas of assistance for our sugar cane farmers, including fertiliser, which will be provided to the All-Island Cane Farmers' Association to boost your revolving loan scheme for input supplies to members,” the minister said.

He said that the matter of irrigation is also being addressed.

“We are doing all of this in order to facilitate the planting of cane because the factories need your cane,” Minister Shaw added.

He said that despite the challenges facing the sector, including factory closures, the sugar industry, in 2018, contributed some 0.5 per cent to gross domestic product (GDP); earned/saved some US$57 million in foreign exchange; and accounted for some 20,000 direct jobs and 80,000 indirectly, or some 7.7 per cent of the active labour force.

He said that the industry still has an important role to play in the nation's business, and neither the Government nor the various other stakeholders can “simply abandon sugar. We want to see it succeed”.

Shaw said that the Government's goal is to “right-size the industry” and in keeping with this objective, focus will be placed on:

• Matching production levels with demand;
• Product diversification, including molasses for rum production and bagasse for energy generation;
• Employing the best agricultural practices in order to increase productivity;
• Providing more and improved extension services to small farmers;
• Producing more cane for factory throughput;
• Stopping the illicit importation of sugar of all types into the country.

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