Wed | Aug 23, 2017

Seprod’s Golden Grove estate to market its own sugar

Published:Wednesday | September 2, 2015 | 9:00 AMNeville Graham
CEO of Seprod Limited, Richard Pandohie.

When representatives

of Golden Grove Sugar Company and officials from the Sugar Industry Authority (SIA) sit down at 10:30 a.m. today, they will be signing the documents to give marketing agency status to the estate.

It will become the second private sugar company to hold the permit, which allows them to find their own sugar markets.

A third holder of the permit, Jamaica Cane Products Sales, is strictly a marketing company and was previously the only conduit through which Jamaican sugar could be sold, a situation that changed in 2009-10 when the Chinese invested in the market.

Sources tell Wednesday Business that Agriculture Minister Derrick Kellier had offered "no objection" to Golden Grove's application for agency status, clearing the penultimate - and sources say, the most important - hurdle for the permit to be issued.

The permits are issued by SIA as the responsible agency, but the no objection letter from Kellier is said to be the necessary trigger since the responsible agency tend not to go against a minister's position.

Officials at the sugar authority were mum, since last week and up to Monday, citing ongoing board-level consultations.

Kellier adopted the position after rounds of consultations with industry stakeholders including the Sugar Manufacturers' Association, the All-Island Cane Farmers Association and the Sugar Company of Jamaica.

Contacted for comment, Richard Pandohie, CEO of Seprod, the parent company of Golden Grove confirmed the no objection letter. Pressed for details Pandohie would only say that "Golden Grove believes the application is on track for a favourable response while looking towards continued and deeper involvement in Jamaica's sugar industry".

Seprod has previously telegraphed that it was weighing a possible exit from its sugar business, but said that its position could change if Golden Grove is granted marketing agency status, giving it control over the sale of its output.

The company is already making plans to outsource its field operations. Earlier this month, some 500 workers got notice pay. Redundancy payments are to follow in September.

neville.graham@gleanerjm.com