Tue | Sep 26, 2017

Picking up the pieces of sugar

Published:Thursday | November 24, 2016 | 11:00 AM

THE EDITOR, Sir:

Your editorial in the November 9, 2016 edition of the Gleaner re the Jamaica Sugar Industry is timely and spot on.

We need to pick up the pieces of an Industry that has hit rock bottom and use our brightest minds to set the course so we can at least salvage something out of the mess for the medium to long term.

The greatest priority is a pragmatic assessment of our existing and potential markets and the volumes and prices that are likely to be achieved.

The next exercise is to determine which of the entities can produce at cost that will make them profitable in the markets identified.

Government must decide how far they will go to keep unprofitable operators in operation as no private sector entity can sustain extended losses.

A final point of warning, especially to government, is to further fragment the marketing arrangements. Raw sugar of acceptable quality for consumption should be packed and sold at the best available prices so that the benefits will go down to the stakeholders. We must avoid those gathering margins from marketing that don't benefit farmers and manufacturers.

The bottom line: only the fittest will survive unless Government for other reasons decides to underwrites poor performers.

Ken Newman