Liu Chaoyu | Chinese not insensitive, Professor Cooper
First of all, thanks to Professor Carolyn Cooper for her close attention to, and care for, the sugar industry here in Jamaica with an article addressing myself and our deputy CEO titled 'Dear George Hong Guo and Liu Chauyo' in The Sunday Gleaner dated November 26, 2017.
This is an industry that, through the efforts of various industry stakeholders, not only feeds the local people, but promotes local employment, contributes to the local economy, and maintains foreign-exchange reserves for Jamaica.
I would like to clarify that the statements attributed to the deputy CEO of Pan Caribbean Sugar Company (PCSC), as quoted by Professor Cooper, were not in any way intended to be either offensive or scathing. The observation was merely geared towards showing the challenges we face here as a company in the local sugar industry, specifically, the shortage of manual labour, especially at harvesting periods, which is at times, serious, and almost chronic.
We, however, fully understand that such a situation results partly from the prosperous economic development here in Jamaica in all sectors, especially after more Chinese companies came to Jamaica investing in highway construction, mining, hotel establishment, medicine, telecommunications, and so on.
LACK OF INTEREST
Therefore, we are a bit surprised to be misunderstood as being critical of Jamaica's young people, and our words being misinterpreted as condescension. Our views are made against the backdrop of the general lack of interest among the younger generation to take on jobs that are intensively manual, which is also a general trend all across the world.
The sentiments noted, however, are widely held in the society and were not engineered by us; they existed prior to our involvement in Jamaica and have been consistently expressed by persons from different spheres of Jamaica's social, economic, and political hierarchy over the years.
Case in point: Tyrone Reid, then staff reporter at The Gleaner, reported on June 3, 2012, from the findings of a HEART study where it was stated that "the bulk of these persons [young people] were found to be looking for work in the services sector, including areas such as accountants, auditors, personnel and career professionals, motor-vehicle mechanics and fitters, secretaries, hairdressers, barbers, and beauticians.
"On the other hand, not many persons are looking to the agriculture sector, which has some 44,497 jobs on offer but no takers. More than 6,000 crop growers are needed all across the island, and work is also available for just over 2,000 farmhands and labourers".
Second, in spite of various known challenges facing the local sugar industry, PCSC has made notable and consistent contributions to the local economy, employment, and people's well-being. Our company has a cadre of more than 1,000 direct employees, and a vast pool of persons who are indirectly employed as contractors as a result of development of PCSC.
Our operations here in Jamaica also support the livelihood of approximately 2,000 registered farmers in Westmoreland, Clarendon, and St Catherine. In the year of 2017, with an input of labour and equipment valued over J$1.5 million, we accomplished more than 30 community outreach programmes, such as cleaning drains, rivers, ponds for various regions; cutting sports fields for schools, parks, football associations, church property, etc; making donations to social activities and the agricultural sector, among other philanthropic activities.
Moreover, more than 60 small and medium-size farmers have, up to now, benefited from our support programme this year with an investment totalling J$20 million, even at a time when we are still suffering from serious financial difficulties.
We will maintain this drive to support the Jamaican people and local economy, and continue our quest to assist our Jamaican employees and their families to improve their standing and make their own contribution to the development of their communities and to the nation as a whole.
Third, we are acutely aware of Jamaica's history, and the history of the sugar industry, particularly at Frome Estate, and appreciate the socio-economic and historical context in which we operate. It is this awareness and appreciation that causes us to be even more committed to offering the local citizens more opportunities to better their lives. Like the other Chinese investors such as CHEC, JISCO, etc, that are operating in and partnering with Jamaica, PCSC will continue to contribute positively and do its part to ensure that the local sugar industry, the largest single employer of labour, maintains its place as a major contributor to the country's development.
Last, but not least, I want to hereby emphasise that PCSC has, among its Jamaican-oriented workforce, some of the most committed, industrious, talented, innovative, and competent employees.
As Chinese nationals, the Jamaican people whom we have met, worked, and interacted with have been true to what is known of the Jamaican people worldwide - a people who are warm-hearted, cordial, respectful, and hard-working. They have helped us to better understand the cultural differences and have facilitated a harmonious working relationship for future development.
As we look forward to the commencement of the 2017-2018 crop on December 11, we would like to applaud all our team members who have invested tremendous amounts of time and energy during the repair season, and all our stakeholders who have assisted us to get ready for what we expect to be a successful crop.
- Liu Chaoyu is chief executive officer and operations manager of Pan Caribbean Sugar Company Limited. Email feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.