FROME, Westmoreland - EXECUTIVE director at the Sugar Industry Authority (SIA) Derick Heaven is appealing to persons to break the tradition of "holding their tongues", and assist the police in apprehending those involved in the practice of setting illicit fires to canefields.
"The culture of silence is not helping anybody. Everybody loses when we burn the cane. The farmer is affected, his price as well, and so to the extent if we know a who a do it, mek wi find a way to communicate it, to get whoever is doing it out of the system," Ambassador Heaven passionately pleaded.
"There seem to be this culture (of setting illegal fires) at Frome moreso than anywhere else in Jamaica. I am seeing where one night police chasing some criminal and shoot one, them (arsonists) light a cane field because of that. Man a come from some football match where them lose, and them light a cane field. Those types of stupidity only prevail down here, if I might say so".
The head of the SIA, who was recently elected vice- chairman of the International Sugar Organisation, argued that the police face a "stiff task" in apprehending the arsonists because of the sophisticated methods employed in setting the fields ablaze.
The sugar belt areas of Westmoreland and Hanover have long been plagued by the illicit burning of cane.
In the 2010/2011 crop alone, fires were blamed for the loss of more than $200 million worth of sugar cane in the Westmoreland area.
Heaven was speaking last week at the Pan-Caribbean Sugar Company's launch of the 2012/2013 sugar cane crop at the Frome Estate in Westmoreland.
Meanwhile, he told the gathering that he was impressed with the renovation of the Frome factory by Pan-Caribbean Sugar Company — the company established in Jamaica by Chinese firm, COMPLANT to operate the facility — in preparation for the 2012/2013 crop.
From this crop, which is expected to last for 16 weeks, the factory is projected to produce 85,000 tonnes of sugar with the milling of 850,000 tonnes of cane.