'Look to green cane harvesting' - Kellier
Agriculture and Fisheries Minister Derrick Kellier is encouraging players in the sugar cane industry to examine the benefits of green-cane harvesting.
He noted that the method was already being practised by a few farmers and recommends that its use be expanded across the industry because of its far-reaching benefits.
"It promotes better environmental practices, reduces the impact on the environment by producing cleaner air during harvesting, aids soil-moisture conservation, reduces soil erosion, and allows for longer ratooning," he said.
He noted that it also facilitates greater competitiveness, especially as it relates to exports into some European countries.
Kellier was addressing a pre-crop seminar at the Sugar Industry Research Institute's headquarters in Kendal, Manchester, on Wednesday. The seminar involved collaboration with the Sugar Industry Authority (SIA).
Green-cane harvesting is reaping cane without the traditional burning. With this method, the leaves and tops of the cane are left on the ground as a trash blanket. Research indicates that this protects the soil from erosion, increases soil moisture, provides weed control, nutrient and soil health advantages, and reduces herbicide use.
The Sugar Transformation Unit, tasked with overseeing the effective implementation of the Government's Sugar Adaptation Strategy, is targeting the harvesting of 300 hectares of sugar cane by September 2016 through green-cane harvesting.
Meanwhile, Chief Executive Officer of the SIA George Callaghan said that the new cane crop season is to begin on December 27 and will last for at least four to five months.
"We are going to be able to achieve, from the point of view of the Sugar Industry Authority, at least 122,000 tonnes of sugar from 1.4 million tonnes of cane," he divulged.
"In terms of preparation, it involves getting the factories tested to start on time. A timely start is critical to the success of the crop," added Callaghan.
He said that in order for the cane season to be productive, there must be collaboration among all stakeholders.