Sat | Dec 15, 2018

Shaw to address sugar concerns today

Published:Tuesday | September 4, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Allan Rickards

Today's luncheon hosted by the All-Island Jamaican Cane Farmers Association (AIJCFA) and the Sugar Industry Authority (SIA) will determine the way forward for the ailing sugar cane industry, whose uncertain future was compounded by the recent decision of J. Wray & Nephew Limited to close its operations at the Holland Estate and Casa Marantha in St Elizabeth.

"The challenges that we face in sugar production are enormous and demand this kind of action," J. Wray & Nephew Chairman Clement 'Jimmy' Lawrence said in explaining the decision that took effect last month.

"Minister is going to speak to a selection of major stakeholders and he is going to outline his understanding as to what needs to be done with the industry. He is going to give the private sector a charge as to what he expects to hear from them and he will, to an extent, signal what is known by the industry - that it is time for change," Allan Rickards, chairman of the AIJCFA, told leaner yesterday.

"The question which has always been and has become more strident over the past five, six years is: How much sugar should we be producing, given that we don't sell to the world market? The world market only gets 10 per cent of production, people dump stuff there, but when countries like Brazil dump, it is a lot of dumping."

 

Priced too low

 

Rickards continued, "Our European market still exists. There is a market for 523,000 tonnes of raw sugar, but there is no guaranteed price. Under this EPA (Economic Partnership Agreement), we have never supplied more than just under 400,000 tonnes, so the market is there. The price, however, now dictates that we have to look again at what you receive in terms of the export. The three hundred and little bit US dollars per tonne is not viable."

Jamaica's declining sugar production has been made worse by the uncertainty as to whether the Monymusk Sugar Factory, which shuttered its operations at the end of the crop year on July 11, will reopen for the 2019 crop season. Government has failed in its efforts to attract investors to operate the factory, which is owned by Pan Caribbean Sugar Company, on an interim basis.

These are among the issues that will be addressed at today's critical stakeholders' function at Spanish Court Hotel in New Kingston.

christopher.serju@gleanerjm.com