Fri | Sep 22, 2017

Trelawny cane farmers facing some tough times

Published:Thursday | December 15, 2016 | 12:00 AMLeon Jackson

Western Bureau:

More than 400 workers who have been dependent on their employment at the Long Pond Sugar Estate in Trelawny for their livelihood will be facing an uncertain future going into 2017, as the factory will not be participating in the 2016-2017 sugar crop year.

The planned inactivity at the historic factory, which was leased from the Government of Jamaica by Everglades Farm Limited in 2010, is expected to have a domino effect in communities like Clarke's Town, whose economy has been tied to the sugar factory for decades.

"Sales in my business have declined ... those to whom I had given credit and were hoping to pay during crop, now see only gloom. Money that would come from sales and repayment for me to replenish my stock is affected negatively," said businessman and noted Trelawny cane farmer Delroy Anderson.

 

WITHOUT A SALARY

 

Winston Tomlinson, the manager at Trelawny Co-operative Credit Union, which had its genesis at the Long Pond factory, said the credit union has changed the way it treats members who will be unemployed during the 2016-2017 crop year.

"There are fewer members from that group saving... the type of loans we give have to change," said Tomlinson. "There are a number of members who bought first-step homes from National Housing Trust. When they got the homes they were barely habitable, so we gave loans to fix them. Now they have mortgages and loans to repay without a salary," said Tomlinson.

In order to facilitate members' survival, Tomlinson said the credit union has introduced microloans so that those affected by the factory's closure can find a means to cater to their domestic and other needs.

"We give loans for chicken rearing, and vegetable farming, among other ventures," Tomlinson told The Gleaner.

Prior to the start of the 2015-2016 crop year, Everglades Farm announced that it would be sitting out the season. However, in a bid to protect the investment of cane farmers in the parish, the Government stepped in and ran a successful three-month crop.