Sweet prospects for new crop - Sugar production up by more than 50 per cent
Major players in the island's sugar industry are upbeat as Jamaica seems poised to record a much greater production than the 100 tonnes projected for the 2016-17 crop year.
Since last December, Jamaica has been seeing a more than 50 per cent increase in sugar production when compared to the comparative period in 2015-16, leaving industry players beaming.
According to the Sugar Industry Authority's (SIA) daily factory report issued last Sunday, 43,073 tonnes of sugar have been produced by the four factories already operating for the 2016-2017 season.
This is 14,772 tonnes more than the 28,301 tonnes produced for the corresponding period in the previous year.
The Monymusk Sugar Factory in Clarendon, which is being managed by the John Gayle-led Sugar Company of Jamaica (SCJ), was set to start production last week and is expected to add another 15,000 tonnes to the final count.
JOINT VENTURE PARTNER
SCJ is managing the factory until a new owner or a joint-venture partner is identified.
"The order to reap has been given at Monymusk, so as soon as farmers' cane comes in, the crop will officially start," Allan Rickards, chairman of the All-Island Jamaica Cane Farmers Association, told The Sunday Gleaner.
"Our only concern is that there is a shortage of cutters, but the quality of the cane that has gone to other factories has been exceptional, so barring any eventualities, we should be seeing some good results from Monymusk," added Rickards.
Frome Sugar Estate in Westmoreland continues to impress under new CEO Liu Chaoyu, with an efficient 19,502 tonnes of sugar produced since starting the season last December.
In the meantime, the Golden Grove Sugar Factory, along with the ever-efficient operations at Worthy Park and Appleton Estate, have combined for the remainder of the increased production.
LONG POND UNCERTAIN
Uncertainty remains over production at the Long Pond Sugar Factory in Trelawny as owner, Everglade Farms Limited, is in discussions with United States-based firm Arrikis about a joint venture energy project for the historic facility.
The company has not released any information about the progress of the negotiation.
The positive picture so far this crop is good news for the local sugar industry as, come October, the European Union will be introducing a new regime for sugar imports to the bloc.
While the details of the new arrangement are still unknown, it is expected that the present limit on production by beet sugar producers will be lifted, and this could lead to a reduction in the demand for the sweetener from African Caribbean and Pacific countries, including Jamaica.
Sugar quality is also likely to become a non-negotiable requirement under the new regime.