Wed | May 22, 2019

Sugar cane's fading sweetness and unstable future

Published:Tuesday | November 13, 2018 | 12:11 AM


Another headline-grabbing story about the latest misfortune faced by the sugar companies has hit the news. This is just another symptom of a failed system that is fighting a losing battle to maintain relevant: its time has long passed.

Few places in the world is sugar cane this massive and lucrative an industry as it is being touted here in Jamaica. Neither are we back in the days of antiquity when sugar was king. Hours in the boiling sun with machetes and basic equipment are no longer the way to go. For some unknown reason, though, those aged and seasoned men in charge of the industry don't seem to realise the shift.

It is sad to see sugar leaving a sour taste on the lips of so many. But, if we should survive economically as a country, we must cut our losses and ties now. I'm suggesting a transformation in the local sugar cane industry. We should speedily rationalise the lands, gradually replace sugar with ginger, cotton, pimento, cocoa, hot peppers, tomatoes, ganja or any crop that is in demand and will turn a decent profit. Keep just enough sugar cane plantations for the making of sugar, molasses and rum and their by-products for use locally or for rum export.

It is full time to put a stop to this downhill march. We are wasting time as a country trying to revive a dying industry when so many other lucrative crops and industries are beckoning for expansion and attention.

One such industry calling is marijuana. Move with alacrity, or watch it slip away slowly.

Joseph Edwards