Record repairs for Long Pond factory - Work came in under budget
After less than eight weeks of repair, the Long Pond Sugar Factory in Trelawny was reopened at a cost of $174 million, $6 million below the budget. This disclosure was made by chief executive officer of the Sugar Company of Jamaica (SCJ) Holdings Ltd, John Gayle, following a tour of the factory by the Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries Karl Samuda last week.
The Government, through SCJ Holding Ltd, took over operations of the Long Pond Sugar Factory earlier this year in an effort to harvest 95,000 tonnes, of which some 30,000 tonnes have been processed to date.
Noting that the sugar industry is important to Jamaica, Minister Samuda said the sector continues to be a leading provider of jobs, with some 50,000 persons employed. He commended SCJ Holdings and the workers for the outstanding job that they have been doing since the reopening of the factory, and said that the Government was working along with Everglades to find an investment partner.
"I am 100 per cent behind the continuation and expansion and improvement of the sugar industry," said Samuda, as he urged stakeholders to invest in value-added production in order for the sector to remain viable.
He noted that the future of sugar does not lie in the traditional approach that is being used to sell sugar, and emphasised that the future of sugar is in adding value to the raw material.
"We must leave that behind us and now move to value-added, because I have never been able to understand why we have continued to sell raw sugar overseas and then it is refined and sold back to us," he stated.
Government's strategy in moving the sugar industry forward, the minister stated, is for the stakeholders to get into an investment mode, where the farmers would concentrate on farming while the investors' focus would be on the operations of the factory.