Late crop irks Trelawny cane farmers
TRELAWNY — Cane farmers in Trelawny say they stand to lose millions of dollars this year, as a result of the delay in the start of the 2000/2001 sugar crop in the parish.
The farmers, who supply their canes to the Long Pond and Hampden Estate sugar factories, claim that they are faced with economic hardship and are on the brink of bankruptcy.
“The crop usually starts in January, but it is now March and nothing don’t start yet,” one farmer told the Observer.
At a meeting of the management committee of the Long Pond/Vale Royal Cane Farmers Association held in Clark’s Town recently, members discussed their plight at length and accused the management of the Long Pond Sugar Company of mismanagement. They have called for a management shake-up at the Sugar Company of Jamaica.
Association president, Delroy Anderson, told the Observer that whenever the crop eventually starts the cane’s sucrose content would be very low. This, he said could result in farmers getting a reduced price for their canes.
Anderson also pointed out that extra labour would be needed to reap the canes and cane cutters would, therefore, demand more money to harvest the crop. He added that farmers’ production costs would also be hiked by the recent increase in the price of fertilisers.
The 2000/2001 sugar crop at the Long Pond Sugar Company is expected to begin at the end of this month.
General manager at the estate, Levi McGregor, told the Observer that the delay in the crop is due to a combination of financial constraints and the January flood rains which left some sections of the parish under water for more than a month.
McGregor explained that these factors severely hampered the usual ‘out of crop’ rehabilitation work at the factory.
As a result of the delay in the start of the crop, Long Pond Sugar Company is expected to produce about 10,000 tonnes of sugar, a decrease of approximately 6,000 tonnes than the amount produced last crop.
And manager at the Hampden Estate, Maurice Jackson, said he expected the crop at Hampden to begin by the end of next week. He said the delay was caused by financial constraints which, he said, resulted in the late start of the necessary repairs.
Despite the late start, however, Hampden expects to produce 9,500 of sugar this crop. Last crop the factory produced just about 9,600 tonnes.
But according to the Anderson, the farmers might have to take to the streets in order to let the public know about the hardships they have been experiencing.