Fri | Jan 19, 2018

Whither future of sugar cane?

Published:Friday | November 4, 2016 | 12:00 AM


Life will not be the same without the sugar same. Indeed, it is not!

In 1972, Jamaica produced 500,000 tonnes of sugar. In 2016, we produced 83,000 tons. The courts closed the Appleton Factory because of a fish kill. That cost us 25,000 tonnes of sugar and bankrupted many cane farmers. Was there no other way? Where was the National Environment and Planning Agency? No sugar, no molasses, no rum, foreign exchange lost.

As the Jamaican dollar gallops toward J$200 to US$1, people have dollarised their savings and business activities in acts of self-preservation. The Government is lagging behind.

How can Jamaica rescue the sugar industry? The cost of transporting sugar cane to distant factories is the greatest inhibitor. We could make all toll roads free for trucks carrying sugar cane. The Government could consider paying for statutory deductions for the sugar industry - NIS, NHT, HEART and education tax. Many countries around the world pay to establish new industries and to resuscitate old ones. It would be haves paying for the have-nots.




Jamaica should commence refining white sugar and thereafter ban white sugar imports. If we can consider smelting aluminium, surely, we can make white sugar. Do remember that sugar does not suffer from praedial larceny and stormy weather, as other crops do.

Remember, too, we do not educate our children to become sugar cane cutters. Let us, therefore, properly reward those who choose to toil in the fields for our benefit. Life would be better with the sugar cane.