BY MARK CUMMINGS Editor-at-Large, Western Bureau firstname.lastname@example.org
CLARKS TOWN, Trelawny - The privately-owned Long Pond Sugar factory in Trelawny is expected to produce roughly 53 per cent of its pre-season target, when the crop ends on June 15.
After a one year break to facilitate a $1billion modernisation exercise at the factory, the plant began sugar production in March.
At that time, the management of Everglades Farms Limited announced that the sugar processing plant was projected to produce 8,000 tonnes of sugar from the milling of roughly 88,000 tonnes of cane.
But with two weeks to go before the end of the crop, the factory is now expected to produce just over 4,200 tonnes of the sweetener.
Up to yesterday, the plant had produced 3,450 tonnes of sugar.
Public Relations Manager at Everglades Farms Christopher Hylton said a number of factors militated against the factory achieving its target.
Chief among them, he said, were:
* the farmers' inability to sufficiently organise and manage their reaping operations;
* the lack of adequate haulage equipment, which included trucks and tractors;
* farmers inability to mobilise enough cane cutters to carry out reaping exercise at their fields and
* a shortage of loaders.
Hylton added that a series of technical glitches at the factory resulting from the modernisation programme, also impacted negatively on production.
"The factory was also affected by insufficient cane for crushing fo nearly a month, as farmers were unable to satisfy their quota," Hylton stressed.
Chairman of the Long Pond /Vale Royal Cane Farmers Association Delroy Anderson told the Observer West yesterday that although it was a disappointing crop, his association was hopeful that the next crop will be better.
" It was really a rough crop. The factory at Long Pond had a lot of problems at the start of the crop but things there have improved a lot in recent weeks, so next year should be much better," he argued.
He said with just two weeks to go before the scheduled end of the crop, his association will be approaching the management of the factory for a extension.
" Right now my farmers have about 8,000 tonnes of cane to be reaped and delivered to the factory but it won't be possible to do that in the two weeks remaining, so we will be asking the management of the factory to extend the crop until about the end of June," he said.
Meanwhile, Hylton told the Observer West that despite the poor crop, Everglades Farms Limited remains committed to the parish of Trelawny, noting that the $1billion investment in the Long Pond Sugar factory over the last 18 months is a clear testament of the company's "unwavering commitment as a good corporate company."
And Anderson said there have been a renewed interest in sugar cane cultivation in the parish.
According to him, there has been a massive replanting of the crop in various sections of the parish.
"Farmers are moving too to acquire loaders, trucks, tractors and other equipment in preparation for the next crop," he said, adding that the price being paid to farmers for their cane is "good."