Wed | Aug 23, 2017

Long Pond sidelined, new plans for cane interest

Published:Monday | December 5, 2016 | 12:00 AMLeon Jackson
Allan Rickards

WESTERN BUREAU:

The worst fears of sugar cane interests in Trelawny have been realised as it has now been confirmed that the Long Pond Sugar Factory, which is owned by Everglades Farms Limited, will not be participating in the 2016-2017 crop year.

Unlike last year when the Government intervened by subsidising a three-month crop to save the 2015-2016 crop year, Sugar Company of Jamaica Holdings and the parties involved in the factory have not been able to come up with an option to make the factory functional this year.

Allan Rickards, the president of the All-Island Jamaica Cane Farmers Association (AIJCFA), told The Gleaner last week that the operators have not been able to do the repairs needed to make the factory functional. In addition to the repair costs, he said the operators have found the energy cost to make the factory function a deterrent.

ENERGY AT WORK

"Ironically, if you pass by the factory daily, smoke can be seen coming from the chimney, indicating that the distillery is operating in the production of rum. Energy at work," Rickards noted.

However, he pointed out that all is not lost for cane farmers in Trelawny as the Government will be assisting them to get their canes to other factories outside of the parish.

"All is not lost for local cane farmers," said Rickards. "The Government is going to subsidise the movement of their cane to Worthy Park and Appleton to the tune of $50 million. Everglades, which are the owners of the Long Pond lands on which cane is being produced, will have to make their own preparations to have their cane transported to either of the two factories."

Rickards noted that the cane farmers can also look forward to an increase in the price of cane supplied to the factories.

"The price of sugar cane will show an increase in the coming year. Last year, the price was just over $56,000 per ton. This is expected to move to $76,000, an increase of just about $20,000," the AIJCFA president told The Gleaner.

In addition to the increase in prices, Rickards said there a project being worked on to make further use of farmers' cane. He noted that the AIJCFA plans to manufacture cane juice and have it canned for consumers. Grant funding is now being sought to make the project a reality.